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Eight new private liquor outlets under provincial review

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Whistler council scrambling to pass bylaw to control licences

Ken Boyer, the managing partner of the Dubh Linn Gate, is hoping one day to see a small, upscale liquor boutique tucked into the lobby of the Pan Pacific Hotel.

"(It’ll be) high-end," he said.

"Our concept is (to sell) the better, more expensive brands. We’re really geared to service the guests of the Pan Pacific."

The application for the Pan Pacific boutique is currently before the provincial government, bringing the total number of applications for new liquor outlets to 523 province-wide.

Eight of those applications are from restaurants or hotels in Whistler.

The municipality is now scrambling to get a zoning amendment bylaw passed that would give them control over the approval of these private liquor stores within the resort. As it currently stands they have no control over the applications to the province.

"We’re just looking to have some opportunity to review them locally," said Mike Kirkegaard, senior planner for the municipality.

On Monday, Dec. 16 council gave first and second reading to a new zoning amendment bylaw. Essentially the bylaw would grandfather all existing liquor and off sales stores and require any new stores to be subject to a local approval process.

It is intended to give the municipality control over a possible proliferation of liquor stores in the resort.

In the meantime council will withhold any building permits needed for those eight new stores while the bylaw is being prepared.

"We have the authority to withhold building permits while a bylaw is under consideration by council and we have now been directed by council to do so," said Kirkegaard.

A public hearing about the bylaw amendment is scheduled for the council meeting on Monday, Jan. 13.

"On a personal side and a business side I don’t want to see a bucketful of bylaws put in place every time business has the ability to go forward but certainly when liquor’s involved there’s a bigger concern," said John Grills, who owns two Whistler restaurants, Thai One On and Zeuski’s.

"Anything that’s going to dramatically increase the volume of liquor flowing into the village (the municipality) would like to able to structure."

After thanking municipal staff for moving ahead quickly with the bylaw amendments, Councillor Nick Davies said it was "offensive" that the province offloaded the responsibility of the liquor stores and neglected to give communities the power to deal with them.

Councillor Kristi Wells added: "We’re really in a race with the province right now."

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