No major incidents reported over May long weekend

GO Fest events and security precautions behind noticeable shift in party culture, officials say

While the May long weekend may have been marred by violence, public disturbances and general rowdiness in the past, this year’s holiday came to a close with no major incidents.

“From a general standpoint, I think it went really well,” said Cpl. Darren Durnin of the Whistler RCMP. “It was, for the most part, an enjoyable weekend, from a police standpoint in particular.”

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The weekend saw the local detachment carry out the operational plan developed in partnership with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, which included officers on foot patrol, in vehicles and on bikes, in addition to the presence of the RCMP’s integrated road safety unit.

“People were very appreciative of the visible police presence,” Durnin said. “We didn’t have any significant problems, which is good news for the community.”

Whistler RCMP reported significantly fewer calls than in past years, with Durnin citing approximately 13 files during the evening on Friday, about 20 to 25 on Saturday night and about 10 to 15 on Sunday. He also estimated officers handed out about 60 violations, mostly related to open liquor, as well as three to five violations for impaired driving in Whistler and Pemberton.

However, the RCMP is seeking the community’s help with one instance of public disturbance that occurred when a rock was thrown through the front window of Meadow Park Sports Centre Saturday night at around 11:10 p.m. The rock damaged the first and second main doors, as well as the display case by the complex’s main entrance, though nobody was injured.

“There’s a bus stop there,” he said. “It’s a very busy area in general with people walking along the trail, so if anybody saw or heard anything please pass that information on to police.”

However, with no major incidences to report, Durnin said a few factors are behind the noticeable shift in the resort’s holiday weekend culture. He credits events with attracting the right crowd, planning strategies carried out by police and the RMOW and community response — such as the Whistler Community Church’s establishment of a safe zone at the Whistler Conference Centre — for helping turn the weekend into a more peaceful experience.

Established in an effort to help combat the party culture of May long weekend, the family friendly Great Outdoors Festival, or GO Fest, now in its fourth year, was once again a hit. Over 150 kids tried out the Vans Mini Skate Ramp in Olympic Plaza, while the free yoga class on Sunday morning attracted a crowd of 50.

“The Village atmosphere was vibrating with energy and excitement,” said GO Fest spokesperson Michelle Leroux in an email on Monday (May 22).

Leroux said all returning GO Fest activities saw an increase in attendance, with new additions to the schedule, such as Forged Axe Throwing, proving popular as well. Go Fest’s concert series drew about 1,500 people to Village Square to catch 54-40 on Friday night, with about 1,000 showing up on both Saturday and Sunday for the Zolas’ and Dear Rouge’s sets, respectively.

Durnin also credited local hotels with helping to ensure visitor and community safety through a variety of measures to manage who is renting their rooms.

These measures evidently served their purpose, explained Saad Hasan, president of the Hotel Association of Whistler, reporting no major incidents from Hotel Association members as of Sunday (May 21).

Hasan explained that local hotels take several precautions to help prevent any incidents, including daily housekeeping staff’s access into all rooms and overnight security — with many hotels scheduling extra security for busy weekends such as Victoria Day. Adult credit card holders must also personally check into the hotel and guarantee all payments on the registered card.

“Essentially there are many safeguards at our hotels to prevent and/or discourage bad behaviour,” Hasan explained in a email. “With that said, occasionally there are still incidents but these are used as learning (opportunities) and new procedures (are) implemented immediately. There is also the Whistler hotels security group that regularly meets with RCMP and bylaw ahead of any special weekends, which has been very helpful in building better insights and communication.”

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