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No more liquor stores, says council

Underground boutique store amongst five shot down

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By Alison Taylor

Council will not allow more private liquor stores in the village.

Five applications for new stores, the bulk of which were in hotels, were turned down en masse Monday night as per a blanket recommendation from municipal staff.

“Liquor is readily available in this town,” said Councillor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, highlighting the 27,000 licensed seats in Whistler.

“I don’t want to sound like a schoolmarm but, enough already.”

Two councillors, however, were looking to separate one of the five proposals from the mix, particularly after hearing from the proponent for a proposed underground boutique liquor store.

The managing partner of the Whistler Brew House, Fraser Boyer, explained his new concept to council in an attempt to drum up interest and have them consider his concept separate from the other proposals. His proposed store, he told council, would focus on B.C. wines and the Brew House’s own brewed on-site beer.

The cellar, which would stretch under the Village Stroll, would also include a wine tasting/seminar room.

Boyer pictured a place where their brewmaster could put on beer making courses, where B.C. vintners could host seminars, and where guests could sample the regional products.

“I think what we’ve got here… is a unique experience for our guests,” agreed Councillor Gordon McKeever.

McKeever and Councillor Tim Wake were interested in separating the Brewhouse application from the others. But they couldn’t fine any support for it at the council table.

Mayor Ken Melamed admitted the proposal was intriguing and stood out from the rest but he questioned the loss of nine parking stalls under the Brew House. That might not have an impact now because the parking lot is underutilized, but in the future, after the nearby Lot 1/9 is developed, those stalls may prove necessary.

The proposal may need more analysis, he said.

“I believe that good opportunities don’t die,” said the mayor. “They get reborn.”

Wake, however, pointed to the province’s timeline in approving these applications. Proponents must have the appropriate rezoning by the end of 2006.

“I think we are closing a door here,” said Wake. “There’s nothing like what we’re talking about here.”

Following the decision Boyer said he understood council’s rationale but couldn’t help but be a little disheartened.

“(I’m) disappointed because it could have been cool.”

After spending the better part of four and a half years working on the project he hopes there will be a way to revive it.

“We’re passionate about the project,” he said.

The four applicants looking for liquor licenses along with the Brewhouse were: the Listel Hotel, the Westin Resort & Spa, Milestones and the Hilton Hotel.

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