News » Whistler

WinterPRIDE festival hours extended

Council News: Fresh look for RMOW website, customer-service project coming



Whistler has relaxed its liquor laws to allow an extension of liquor sales until 4 a.m. for the iconic Snowball event during WinterPRIDE.

The event will be held at the Whistler Conference Centre, which is allowed liquor service until 1:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The Snowball event, held on the Saturday of the last week of the 22nd annual gay and lesbian ski week, will see 1,200 guests for the final event.

In his report to council, planner Frank Savage said: "Tourism Whistler's application states that the WinterPRIDE festival second weekend events at the Conference Centre, anchored by the Snowball event, bring an additional 1,000-plus room nights to the resort over and above the week-long festival events."

Noise from the event, held yearly, is not likely to be a problem, added Savage. Exiting attendees will be reminded to be respectful of the accommodation units in the village.

Event organizers are also looking into the possibility of providing guests with an early breakfast event at a nearby restaurant, as it has in past events, which will give guests a venue until the regular bus service begins.

Council has approved the 4 a.m. closing times at the Conference Centre for the last five years of WinterPRIDE, as well as the last six years for World Ski and Snowboard Festival events.

Fresh look for

To reach its target of 150,000 page views per month, the municipality is putting a fresh face on its website,

With a budget of $48,000, the website has been pinpointed as one of the most affordable and effective ways to share information with the community.

Calling it the municipality's "virtual front desk," Michele Comeau, manager of communications, said there are 10 areas of enhancement, including a new homepage that will highlight essential information, restructured drop down menus to guide users to content, and a new "I Want To" menu.

The work also includes a revamp of the municipality's mobile website.

The updates are part of ongoing changes to the website since it was launched to the public in 2005. It's common, explained Comeau, for websites to be updated every couple of years.

"I don't think websites are ever finished," she said.

This is a major overhaul on the heels of the last major upgrade in 2011.

Comeau's report said: "A robust website is one essential component to the RMOW's commitment to open and transparent communication."

The website goes live in January. The online updates for content and features will continue in 2014 with new photography and design, marketing and communications from RMOW programs, and the customer service project.

Councillor Jayson Faulkner asked if the work was done in house or contracted out; the majority, explained Comeau, is done in house; the rest by a company in Vancouver.

Customer service in 2014 work plan

With the major renovations to municipal hall almost complete, municipal staff will be turning their attention to a customer service strategy project next year.

"A customer service strategy will be developed for council's consideration," explained Comeau. "In response to the Council Action Plan, staff will review how the RMOW delivers services to its customers. We will review customer service levels, identify gaps and recommend strategies and actions to meet customer service goals of effective and efficient service. The scope of review will include the following areas: in-person, telephone and online interactions with the public; response, tracking and reporting systems; roles and responsibilities; and information, engagement and awareness tools to support service delivery."

The work comes on the heels of $475,000 worth of construction work at the hall, now in the final stages. That work was designed to improve customer service areas, customer and employee accessibility, and workspace environment.

Among other things, the main reception area at the main entrance to municipal hall has been converted to an open-concept customer service counter providing reception and financial services.