Big White Ski Resort seeking to terminate lease with restaurant that held party

A Big White spokesperson said the resort accepted the restaurant owner’s public apology, “but we just can’t ignore the seriousness of this event.”. Global News

A ‘wrong’ decision to swing open his restaurant doors on Monday, resulting in a large party amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, may prove costly for the establishment owner.

On Wednesday, Big White Ski Resort announced that it was seeking to immediately terminate the restaurant’s lease.

Big White senior vice-president Michael J. Ballingall told Global News that what happened at Charley Victoria’s was beyond the pale, and that the resort’s image has been tarnished because of the incident, which saw scores of young adults crowding inside the pub.

“We communicated through our lawyers with the leaseholder to terminate the lease immediately,” Ballingall said. “We have issued an eviction notice for the leaseholder to give us back the building and the space before Good Friday.

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“We think we are taking appropriate action due to the blatant disregard for WorkSafeBC rules, COVID-19 protocols, the provincial health officer’s orders, and, obviously, the blatant disregard for the liquor license and the obeying of the license rules and regulations under the B.C. Liquor Act.”

Prior to Big White making that announcement, restaurant owner Justin Reid issued a public apology.

On his restaurant’s Facebook page, Reid said “My decision to let his happen was wrong. I take full accountability for accept all consequences (sic) of this poor decision. As a community, we have all been working so hard and making sacrifices to curb COVID-19 and keep each other safe, and what happened at Charley’s Monday night was unacceptable and did not demonstrate leadership or compassion for my community, in which I care deeply about.”

Click to play video: '‘Raging’ private restaurant party at B.C. ski resort'
‘Raging’ private restaurant party at B.C. ski resort

The full apology, and its varying comments, can be seen here.

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Global News reached out to Reid for comment on Tuesday, but has not yet heard back.

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Ballingall said the resort has reached out to the restaurant owner “through many channels and haven’t been able to reach the owner yet. We saw that he posted a very sincere apology on his social channels.”

The resort’s senior vice-president continued, saying “I think in all due respect to this gentleman, he is a very nice person,” adding “we thought we would have a long-running relationship with Charley Victoria’s, but we just can’t ignore the seriousness of this event.”

Ballingall said the resort accepted the apology, but “it doesn’t change the actions that we need to take in order to protect our brand, and to really protect the future of the industry at Big White Ski Resort.

“These are unprecedented times, but this is a blatant disregard for the law and the provincial health officer. We have to take the appropriate action.”

Click to play video: 'B.C. officials announce new ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions to curb  spread of COVID-19 transmission'
B.C. officials announce new ‘circuit breaker’ restrictions to curb spread of COVID-19 transmission

He also said the resort fired two employees who were identified as being at the restaurant party. Ballingall said by being there, they broke a social contract with the resort.

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According to Ballingall, most of the restaurants at the resort laid off their staff at 3 p.m., after the province announced earlier Monday that it was temporarily closing all indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

“Clearly, the majority of the people in that restaurant were laid-off staff,” Ballingall said. “The ones that we did identify in the video that were still working for us, they were let go.”

He stated the DJ was from Whistler.

“That is the thing that scared us the most,” Ballingall said. “People are travelling around the province and not abiding by the provincial health officer’s orders.”

Click to play video: 'Whistler mayor says latest COVID-19 shutdown is ‘devastating’'
Whistler mayor says latest COVID-19 shutdown is ‘devastating’

Also Wednesday, the resort announced that it was closing a week early, on April 5, up from April 11. The notice, which included a reference to Charley Victoria’s, can be seen here.

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“We made the decision to stay open until April 11 back in June of last year,” said Big White CEO Peter Plimmer. “Since then, a lot has changed. In the past week, even more has changed.

“We are grateful to have been able to keep the resort open and safe as long as we have, but with other resorts shutting down, we have become a magnet for non-local skiers and snowboarders.”

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