Opinion » Editorial


Damned if we do and damned if we don't



Like everyone else in town I was excited at the idea of having a jazz festival come to town over a long weekend. I was hoping that this could grow into a destination event for the resort.

After all, there is no escaping the fact that Whistler's continued success must include new things to attract people. And we must attract new people - not just outdoor adventure-seeking travellers, but also more families, more revellers, more LGBT visitors, more people with pets, more, more, more.

Whew, I'm exhausted just thinking of all the people we need to reach out to and attract.

It was very disappointing then to see some of the ticketed jazz festival events so poorly attended. It was clear that a great deal of planning had gone into the event, recognized talent was playing, workshops were well attended - on the face of it, it looked like it had all the elements of success.

As we know, it ran into a significant snag at the 11 th hour with the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch deciding that the festival should be allowed to sell alcohol "stadium style" - which would have allowed spectators to get a drink and then wander back to their piece of lawn to enjoy it.

The decision left a lot of people shaking their heads, wondering at the clear disconnect between some institutional decision-making and the real world.

We were told safety was the main issue. In some venues I can absolutely see that being an issue, but at this jazz festival, in this venue, it didn't make sense in my mind.

In the last several days we have also heard about the recommendations coming out of the investigation into the Stanley Cup riots in June. Vancouver's police Chief Jim Chu suggested that some large gatherings in Vancouver should be banned and access to liquor tightly controlled at public events.

Obviously I am not comparing the jazz festival and the hockey riot, but I think it needs to be recognized that we already have the most archaic liquor laws in Canada. I'm not sure they can be any more restrictive that those forced now on event planners. And the hockey event was "dry." No one was serving alcohol there.

I'm not advocating that people should just be able to wander around with an alcoholic drink in their hands, but surely there is a happy medium here. Cannot the event be looked at and then a sensible solution be found? Maybe it is a good idea to ban or restrict alcohol at something like an outdoor party for a hockey game, as Chu suggests, given that younger males are likely to attend and - I'm not telling any tales out of school here when I say they are more likely to cause trouble.

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