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New era for liquor regulation enforcement

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During the last month or so, Whistler’s licensed premises have been seeing much more of the Liquor Control Board officer, and some say his actions have been carried out with a chip on his shoulder. But none of the people who made the comments were prepared to be quoted for this article.

The reality is, liquor inspector Alan Andrews was in the middle of a competition held by the B.C. Liquor Control Board to see who would get the job in this end of the Sea to Sky corridor. After February, 2001, there will be a full-time liquor inspector stationed at a new control board branch in Squamish – the first time there’s been an office closer than North Vancouver.

Comments from Whistler bar and club managers about these changes included "Whistler does things its own way" and "it’s about time." But there was one consistent theme: People better get used to it.

Creekside restaurateur and pub owner Ron Hosner is a member of the Whistler Liquor Licence Advisory Committee, created two years ago to help with pending changes in provincial liquor laws and to monitor licensing in Whistler. Hosner was one of two bar or pub owners who went on the record, but in his case it was more in his capacity as committee member than pub owner.

"There should be a level playing field," Hosner said. "I don’t know why anybody’s complaining. We all know what the rules are. But the liquor board has done a terrible job in the past so they’re partly to blame. The inconsistencies are terrible. And I mean everywhere I’ve been in B.C. But the rules are there and we should abide by them.

"There are restaurants in Whistler trying to be a bar," Hosner continued. "And they can let under 19 year olds in. I can assure you bars don’t want restaurants being bars. So they get the best of both worlds."

Sheldon Payton, the regional director for the B.C. Liquor Control Board, says the current inspector in Whistler, Andrews, is actually an auxiliary officer who was in competition for the job. Andrews was on a training assignment and was not available for comment this week.

"There was an extended amount of time that we didn’t have an inspector in Whistler," Payton said. "Actually we did have a guy there that lived in Whistler, before Alan came in. Either way, you’re going to see more of him (in Whistler) in 2001. He’ll have a higher profile because the permanent officer will be out of Squamish."

Payton said two issues have historically prevented more frequent appearances by liquor inspectors in Whistler. The first is officers have always been stationed in the Lower Mainland and therefore have made only occasional trips to Whistler; the second is officers have been deluged with licensing issues rather than enforcement and compliance.

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