While council deliberates an application to rezone Creekside Plaza and relocate a BC Liquor Store following a public hearing on Feb. 6, questions are being raised about the process involved.
Namely, that the bylaw presented for council's consideration bears the wrong address.
At the public hearing, Lance Bright of Snowsun Ventures, which operates Roland's Beer and Wine Store across the highway, pointed out several typos in the original RMOW planning report, mixing up two addresses involved (2010 and 2011 Innsbruck Drive).
Under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act (LCLA), retail liquor stores are not allowed to move within one kilometre of an existing store.
While the address at 2011 is compliant with the proposed move, being far enough away from Roland's on Lake Placid Road, the address at 2010 (the existing Boston Pizza building, which the proponent plans to demolish and rebuild) is not.
The zoning amendment bylaw presented at the public hearing on Feb. 6 (which council gave first two readings to on Jan. 23) lists 2010 Innsbruck Drive as the address in question.
"The proposed zoning amendment bylaw would amend schedule D to add the proposed liquor store location at 2010 Innsbruck Drive — that's Boston Pizza — as a permitted location for retailed sales of packaged liquor," Bright said at the public hearing.
"I find it unusual that such a document, produced in October, should have such errors."
Bright's concern is that without clarity, the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) could feasibly move into the existing building at 2011 and then move into 2010 at a later date — the move would be legal under the LCLA, as both addresses exist on the same parcel identifier.
"Given the vagueness of 2011 and 2010, there is a possibility that the entire property is not allowed underneath the rules and regulations," Bright said.
The private store sees the relocation as a predatory attempt on its operations, and a move to the highly visible corner property at 2010 Innsbruck even more so.
Asked if the mistakes jeopardize the decision making process, and how such typos weren't corrected before council saw the report, the RMOW said the queries are "legal questions under investigation and as a result, we can't provide comment at this time."
Proponents Creekside Plaza Ltd., — owned by Dan Jekubik and his brothers — say the intention was always to move the liquor store to 2011, and a lease agreement conditional on getting the rezoning would keep it there (Samurai Sushi, meanwhile, will move to the new building at 2010 Innsbruck).
The proponents have invested $1.3 million in improvements to the property since buying it in 2010, including a new roof for the building at 2011, landscaping, roadwork and more.
The rejuvenation project, which seeks to demolish and replace the existing Boston Pizza building at 2010 Innsbruck and add four employee-housing units, would amount to another big investment for the area — one widely applauded locally since it was first announced.
But having the BC Liquor Store as an anchor tenant is key to the rejuvenation plans.
"I really want to build something nice and something that I can be proud of that helps the community, so I'd be really, really disappointed if we didn't get the approval to move the liquor store over," Jekubik said.
With more housing projects planned south of town in the coming years, Jekubik doesn't see why the two liquor stores can't coexist.
"If you look at all the growth that's poised for Whistler, it's almost all on the south side of town," he said. "So Creekside is going to get, hopefully, busier, and I don't think there is an issue being able to support both (Roland's) and the store moving to our location."
The proponents approached the LDB after hearing "rumblings" that it was unhappy with its Creekside location and looking to move, and the partnership grew organically from there, Jekubik said.
"Having that liquor store as an anchor, we're getting calls from other local businesses and other new businesses who want to (move) to our location that we never had before, so we really feel that that's a key to invigorating the plaza," he said.
At the Feb. 6 public hearing, several people questioned the rationale behind the move, saying it doesn't make sense from a commercial or logistical standpoint (see Pique Feb. 8).
In a letter of support, the LDB's director of real estate Jason Ho said Creekside has seen a "substantial decrease in foot traffic" which has directly affected business, and that the current location is oversized.
But Kaori Zage, who recently purchased Franz's Trail in Creekside Village (where the store is currently located) with her husband Ray, said the LDB has been unresponsive to their attempts to reach out and find a solution.
The new owners offered a smaller space, and even offered to pay for renovations or let the LDB look at other locations in Creekside, to no avail.
As for the falling sales numbers, Kent Dawson, general manager of the Creekside Market grocery store, found that hard to believe.
"We have seen increases year after year here at Creekside Market. The volume that we are doing out of this site is way more than we ever could have achieved across the street," Dawson wrote in an email, adding that growth over summers and the off-season has been incredible in recent years as well.
"I am sure this extra growth that we have seen would have also driven the sales for the liquor store too."
The LDB was unavailable for comment before Pique's deadline.