By Vivian Moreau
of May long weekend arrests and calls to police were down this year, about 125
people attended a forum recently to discuss how to deal with visiting rowdies.
Kimberley Hughes, general manager of Delta Whistler Village Suites hotel in
response to complaints received after the May long weekend and hosted by the
Fairmont Chateau Whistler, opinions at the forum varied on who should be
responsible for curbing long weekend mobs.
varied from banning those under 25 from registering at hotels to adding more
police and bylaw officer patrols to installing outdoor cameras to giving
offenders more time in the klink.
able to wake up at home works (as a deterrent)," said Fairmont general
manager Paul Tormey.
Scott Pass took the same hard-line approach.
to be consequences for actions," Pass said. "Ticketing is not an
option, some need to go to jail."
One of the few
under 30s at the forum, Whistler resident Matt Graham, spoke against barring
youth from hotels.
"An age cap
is not the best factor," he said. "The real problem is that people
think they can do whatever they want." He added that he did not see many
police on patrol over the long weekend.
owner Wayne Katz felt that what goes on in the village is ultimately the RCMP’s
responsibility. "Drugs and alcohol are going to happen and we need to
learn to control it," he said. "We need to be on top of it."
The RCMP’s Marc
Lavergne said $17,000 was spent increasing police presence by 300 per cent from
May 19 to 22.
longer in normal mode on the May long weekend," he said.
In addition to
regular patrols, staffing included four Lower Mainland assistants, two bike
patrols, one police dog and two Squamish traffic officers. Over the weekend the
local detachment received 98 calls, down from 121 calls in 2005, and made 13
arrests for public drunkenness. In 2005 there were 19 alcohol-related arrests.
comparison, received 141 calls the same weekend and made 25 arrests for public
drunkenness and uttering threats.
officer Sandra Smith made several recommendations to ease the problems with
roving groups of inebriated visitors. Enhanced policing, earlier liquor store
closing times, taxi loop barricades, giving tickets for open liquor and running
the late night bus to staff housing were cited.
from the village’s brick-heavy design and adjusting marketing strategies were
"We need to
be careful with messaging Whistler as a place to come party," Smith said,
adding that until recently the resort had been touted as a place to "come
pillage in the village."
Tom Johnston of
Trilogy Properties, which manages Whistler’s Adara Hotel, said the Whistler’s
brand has been devalued by promoting the resort as a party town at the expense
of other visitors who come here for a quieter experience.
"As soon as
you piss off guests they won’t come back," he said.
managing partner in the Savage Beagle argued against painting Whistler
nightclubs and bars as "the bad guys," saying there has been closer
collaboration between police and bars in the past year and that the six
nightclubs meet monthly to discuss common concerns. He also advocated for
extending closing time from 2 a.m. to 3 a.m., saying the later hour would give
customers more time to decompress from the social ‘clubbing’ high.
Hilton said that all the suggestions were treating symptoms but not the real
need to be asking is what do we want Whistler to be," he said. "We
have to work together to develop a consciousness [for the resort]." He
agreed to be the contact for a discussion group that will work toward building
consensus of what the issues are and how best to effect change.