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Council approves temporary, permanent liquor changes

Two village spots get bigger, liquor sales extended for gay ski week



Whistler's coldest room is set to get bigger... and even colder.

The Bearfoot Bistro's Vodka Ice Room is waiting for approval from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch to increase in size by nearly 50 square feet (4.5 sq. m) to a total size of 150 square feet (14.1 sq. m). Council gave its endorsement of the changes at Tuesday's regular evening meeting.

"It's become one of the must-do things in Whistler," said Bearfoot owner André Saint-Jacques, of the popularity of the ice room, which has been operating out of the renowned restaurant since February 2010.

"We couldn't provide (access to it) properly without guests having to wait for long periods of time before they could get in, so this way, by adding (space) we can accommodate all the guests (that want to experience) the coldest vodka room in the world."

The expansion, which carves out room from the lobby area and brings it into the ice room, will not change the capacity of the room. That will remain at 70 persons for the ice room and the Champagne Lounge.

Saint-Jacques also said that there are now two cooling systems in the room, which will allow it to chill to minus 38 degrees.

This breaks the Vodka Ice Room's own record of minus 32 degrees, which made it the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.

"It's good for your skin complexion," joked Saint-Jacques.

Pending approval, the expanded Vodka Ice Room is set to get guests shivering this coming weekend. It has remained operational throughout the renovations.

More liquor space in Upper Village

The Bearfoot may like the moniker "world's coldest vodka tasting room," but the owners of The Fitzsimmons Pub want to shed their label as "Canada's Smallest Pub."

That's why they have applied to council to expand the Blackcomb Liquor Store, and move and expand the Fitzsimmons Pub in the Upper Village.

Council has set the ball rolling for both.

On Tuesday council gave first and second readings to the bylaw that will increase the size of the Blackcomb Liquor Store from 1,185 square feet (110 sq. m) to 1,611 square feet (150 sq. m). The space to expand the store comes from the Fitzsimmons Pub.

The pub is now set to move to a nearby vacant commercial unit within the Glacier Lodge property.

Council provided its support of this change, which includes an increase in pub capacity from 20 persons to 42.

Its resolution will now go to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch for consideration.

In his letter to council, owner Michael Kompass outlined a variety of reasons for the change including the need to: "continue to offer a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere in the Upper Village" and "make use of space that has been sitting vacant for six years, providing a viable tenancy, and improving the appearance and attraction of the commercial sector."

Pride Festival gets liquor extension

Council has given the green light to extend liquor sales for the grand-finale party of the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival.

At Tuesday's meeting council approved an extension to 4 a.m. for the Saturday Jan. 31 Snowball event at the Whistler Conference Centre. Municipal policy calls for council approval for any sale of liquor past 2 a.m.

The Snowball event will have roughly 1,200 guests for the final event of Pride ski week.

According to Tourism Whistler's application for changes to the conference centre, the festival's second weekend dance events at the conference centre bring an additional 1,000 plus room nights to the resort over and above the week-long festival events.