News » Whistler

Brewhouse’s large municipal bill proves challenging



Why does the Brewhouse Restaurant have to pay about $15,000 in fees to the municipality to add a small storage space in their garage?

That question spurred a lengthy discussion Tuesday at the council table about how this could impact the village in the long run.

"Goofy" and "unacceptable" were some of the terms council used to describe the accounting. The total included more than $7,000 for works and service charges, along with bills for the rezoning process and building permit approval.

"There has to be a point where we don't penalize businesses for making an investment and doing something that is allowing us to better the overall environment of the village," said Councillor Chris Quinaln. "I get that part where we have to charge fees and services, but council, I am missing the part where charging $7,000 to put in some storage units to make our village look better and to be in compliance is equitable."

The bureaucratic maze the municipality needs to navigate is proving challenging, however.

Mike Kirkegaard, manager of resort planning for the municipality, explained to council that neither he nor council can use their discretion to reduce the price, since that would go against the Local Government Act. Instead, a new bylaw amendment would have to be developed, which would require first, second and third readings, along with a public hearing.

"We recognize it is an issue," said Kirkegaard. "The question is how common an issue is it, how would we tailor a bylaw amendment to be more generally applicable to a common issue like this and is it worth staff's time at this point when we have other priorities like the official community plan and the retail strategy on our work program."

Bill Barratt, the municipality's chief administrative officer, added that the only similar exemptions he knows have been granted were to non-profits and charitable societies.

In the end, council unanimously voted to bring the issue to the Retail Strategy and ask for suggestions on how to go forward.

"Storage is an issue and when we built the village we didn't build storage into it," cautioned Quinlan. "It is going to be something in the future. It is a bit of a high priority."

According to a recent letter from architect Timothy Ankenman, the Brewhouse decided last year to build the storage after talking with municipal staff about their frustration with the lack of storage for their outdoor patio furniture during the off-season.

Stacking tables and chairs on the patio was unsightly for both patrons and the general public and storing these items off-site was expensive and inconvenient, Ankenman wrote.

Add a comment