Watching the sun slip behind the mountains while sipping a beverage will be easier now that licensed patio space in Skier's Plaza is almost doubling in size.
The total patio occupant load in one of Whistler's key plazas is going from 489 patrons to a potential of 828.
On Tuesday council approved two applications to increase patio capacity — one for the Longhorn, the other for the GLC — the two flagship bars at the base of the mountains.
The Longhorn will go from a total patio capacity of 264 persons to a maximum of 360 persons; the GLC similarly will go from a total patio capacity of 225 to 468.
"These are two very large businesses and they're going to get a lot bigger," said Councillor John Grills, adding that their prime locations make them key spots for Whistler's events.
There were, however, concerns about potential increase in noise.
"As Whistler has grown in size, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of incidents of noise disturbance occurring at night in the vicinity of The Carleton Lodge," said V. E. Branhall in a letter to council about the Longhorn's changes to its liquor license.
"I would not wish any changes to the liquor license to be made if that would make the current situation any worse for those staying in the neighbouring accommodation at The Carleton Lodge."
To address noise concerns, the Longhorn, at the base of The Carleton Lodge, will be installing an awning over a portion of the patio. Its amplified music will also be set to a timer to turn off at 10 p.m.
"It is expected that noise mitigation efforts proposed by the Longhorn will address those concerns," said municipal planner Frank Savage.
Councillor Roger McCarthy raised some concerns around timing of the projects. Walking around town this week he noticed that the expansions were already underway.
"To some degree it puts a gun at our head," he said, of council's decision to improve the seat increase after the building expansion.
Staff explained that there is an approved development permit for upgrades to the Carleton Lodge building.
The Longhorn owners can enlarge their space, but still need council approval before increasing the occupant load.
The GLC is adding a new patio to its space — the same platform area that has been temporarily licensed for festival and events.
The existing patio can be licensed for a higher occupant load.
The report to council states: "The proposed increase in patio capacity from 225 to 468 is significant. The applicant's letter, however, states their intention is to operate the patio with a maximum of 375 persons, based on the most efficient layout for guest experience and the demands placed upon the kitchen and bar."
Council also approved a change to the GLC's liquor service from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Council has given the nod to a Special Occasion License (SOL) at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Saturday June 21 for a Tough Mudder expo event.
The Welcome Mudders event, which will be produced in partnership with Gibbons Life, will give athletes and spectators the chance to explore a local business expo and buy a beer or two after the competition in the Callaghan Valley.
The SOL service area will be a fenced-in portion of the plaza and the beer, two per person, will be sold from 2 to 6 p.m.
"The idea is that this is a flow through," said Bob Andrea during his presentation to council Tuesday.
The restrictions on beer and the timing of the event is designed to entice people through on their way to their hotels before going back out to the rest of the village for dinner and drinks.
Tough Mudder, the military-style obstacle course, returns to Whistler in June, drawing roughly 25,000 participants. Last year the event had an economic impact of $7.5 million in the province, with $4.2 million of that occurring in Whistler.