New Year’s Eve crowds can expect to see a heightened police presence roaming the Village on Dec. 31, said Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes.
On top of that, plainclothes officers will be on duty as well. Their goal is to make sure “that everyone is having a great time,” Hayes said.
That means any liquor flowing will have to be confined to licensed establishments. “There’s a zero tolerance policy that night, and that’s for everyone’s safety,” Hayes explained. “There will be no warnings if you’re caught with open alcohol. You will be receiving a fine and depending on the situation, we’ll go from there.”
That strict enforcement will carry over to the resort’s roads, as well, with an increased police presence scheduled to carry out highway patrol and road checks. “We just don’t want people to think they’re allowed to consume alcohol and then drive, because we’ll be keeping a very close watch on that as well,” Hayes said.
Luckily, there will be a few more options to get revellers to and from the Village safely.
In addition to increased weekend and holiday service from Dec. 22 to Jan. 7, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and BC Transit will offer extended evening service on Dec. 31. All transit will be free on local Whistler routes between 6 p.m. and 4 a.m., courtesy of Resort Municipality Initiative funds.There will also be a fireworks display at midnight, following a special edition of the Fire and Ice show at the base of Whistler Mountain, both of which are free to attend.
“There’s a real vibe to the Village on New Year’s Eve. The festive lighting is just beautiful,” Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden said.
These family-friendly celebrations have been successful in shifting the culture surrounding this holiday in Whistler away from problem-causing partiers towards a safer, more positive atmosphere, she added.
“For years, a long time ago, we had difficulties with New Year’s Eve with people who weren’t necessarily behaving properly coming into the Village,” she said. “We really deliberately turned to programming for families along with a police presence, of course, to ensure that some of the unruly behaviour just didn’t occur. We’ve been very successful, I would say for about the last 10 years, with really having a family-feel to New Year’s Eve. It’s been very successful in that regard.”
Those who plan to enjoy a few drinks can take advantage of the evening’s free transit to get home safely, as Wilhelm-Morden plans to do. “We’ll be walking into the Village as we usually do to celebrate the countdown, and see the fireworks, and then hop on the free transit to go home,” she said of her New Year’s Eve plans.
The Village will be filled with family-friendly events, including the return of Whistler Presents: New Year’s Eve, featuring a packed roster of activities and celebrations for all types of revellers.
“Because we have the provincial Resort Municipality Initiative money, there’s no shortage of ways to get in the holiday spirit, in particularly on New Year’s Eve,” said Wilhelm-Morden.
In addition to the onslaught of adults-only celebrations hosted by restaurants and bars around town, the family-friendly Whistler Presents celebrations will be taking place at the Whistler Conference Centre and the Maury Young Arts Centre.
While the conference centre will host a dance for teens, age 13 to 17, drum performances, circus acts and a “giant” craft zone for younger kids, the Maury Young Arts Centre’s three levels will be packed with entertainment, live music, illuminated characters, balloon twisting and more crafts, to name a few activities.
There will also be early countdowns so the little ones can celebrate and get to sleep by bedtime. Those will take place at 7:40 p.m. and 9:20 p.m. at the arts centre (complete with a balloon drop and a bubble wrap stomp), and at 9 p.m. at the conference centre.
Wristbands are required for access to the Whistler celebrations. They cost $12.50 per person (kids under two are free), with that price set to rise to $15 after Dec. 29. They can be purchased at the Maury Young Arts Centre, the Meadow Park Sports Centre, the holiday info kiosk at the Whistler Conference Centre or online at whistler.com/holiday.