A quick glance at statistics released by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch suggests that alcohol sales in the region outpace the rest of the provice.
The B.C. Liquor Stores in Sea to Sky sold 3.7 million litres of liquor in the 2011-12 fiscal year. In a per capita comparison with other regions around the province the amount of alcohol sold in the region puts the SLRD at the top of the list.
There are five B.C. Liquor Stores in Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton and the combined revenues of the stores last year totaled $36.1 million or a total of well over three million litres of alcohol. The largest seller is the store in Whistler's Marketplace. That store alone accounted for revenues of $11.5 million.
The government store in Squamish was the next biggest seller in the corridor doing $8.3 million in business followed by the Whistler Village store with $7.9 million.
Pemberton's store turned over $3.4 million in product while the small outlet at Whistler's Creekside pushed $2.9 million worth of product out the door.
Michael Brisbois, president of Restaurant Association of Whistler, said he heard the news Tuesday morning and it left him feeling that Whistler was painted as a town full of heavy drinkers.
"People do come to Whistler and they are coming to enjoy, they're coming for a vacation," said Brisbois to bring context to the liquor branch statistics.
"For some people it's their once-in-a-lifetime vacation. They'll buy an expensive bottle of wine, or buy two. Does that make them an alcoholic? No."
Brisbois said he often hears comments from visitors who report that back home they are teetotallers but in the resort environment they let loose.
Brisbois pointed out that many of the festivals hosted in Whistler draw young crowds who enjoy alcohol, while many of the employees in the resort are under the age of 30. Many of them enjoy having a few drinks in their time away from work noted Brisbois.
The busiest liquor store in the province is at 39th and Cambie in Vancouver with $53 million in sales in 2011-2012.