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Tofino’s Hotel Zed changes liquor licence request from 2 a.m. to midnight

“This was listening to the community’s concerns,” Brent Baker told the Westerly News.
Hotel Zed in Tofino. (Andrew Bailey photo)

Hotel Zed has revised a liquor licence application to request service until midnight, rather than 2 a.m.

The town’s municipal council had reviewed the original 2 a.m. request during their Oct. 27 regular meeting, where they heard from a handful of residents expressing concerns over the impact the move could have on the neighbourhood.

READ MORE: Concerns pour in as Tofino’s Hotel Zed requests new liquor licence

The district’s manager of protective services Brent Baker told the Westerly News on Nov. 10 that he was not surprised to hear pushback from the community on the hotel’s request.

“They initially started out seeking 2 a.m., obviously there was some letters of opposition based on it being an agenda item that day. They have since looked at that and said, ‘OK, we get it, we’ll seek hours that are consistent with the current food primary licence,’” he said. “This was listening to the community’s concerns.”

He said the revised request for a midnight last-call is consistent with the food primary licence the hotel already holds, though he noted Hotel Zed’s restaurant is not operational yet, so that licence cannot currently be used.

He added that the hotel has also removed its ‘psychic room’ from the application and the liquor licence would now only apply to the ‘sunken living room,’ ‘private dining room’ and ‘mini disco.’

Baker said the community consultation process will continue with the revised hours and comments can be submitted to the district at until Nov. 30 at 4 p.m. The request is expected to hit council’s desk again on Dec. 8.

Hotel Zed’s vice president of marketing and communications Trina Notman told the Westerly that the hotel had never wanted a 2 a.m. last call and explained a mistake had been made in the application.

“We always wanted it for midnight. Having a 2 a.m. liquor licence is a nightmare for our hotel, that was never our intention. It was an absolute error on our part,” she said. “We should have reviewed the liquor licence before it went in. We trusted our liquor consultants to get it right and they didn’t and now we’re trying to fix it as much as we can.”

She said she has reached out to community members, including both Cathy Thicke and Laura Loucks who spoke against the application during Oct. 27’s meeting.

“We were not surprised that the community responded to a 2 a.m. close because no other place in Tofino closes at 2 a.m.,” she said. “It was a very sad day internally because it was an error and that’s not what we intended and now we’re up against a little bit more of an uphill battle. I’m not surprised that they wouldn’t have wanted a close. It’s not appropriate for Tofino.”

She explained the crux of the hotel’s liquor licence application is to allow alcohol to be consumed in a seating area within the lobby dubbed ‘the sunken living room.’ She added that liquor would not be served in the area, but the licence would allow people to purchase a drink at the bar and enjoy it in the lobby while they wait for friends or socialize.

She added that she will continue reaching out to community members to address concerns about the proposed liquor service and said the hotel has put a keen focus on community collaboration since before its construction.

“Our plans were built around the conversations that we had,” she said, adding a conversation with longtime Tofino local and president of the Tofino Arts Council Maureen Fraser led to the creation of a book about the Clayoquot logging protests called ‘Respect for the Garden.’

READ MORE: Pipeline protests spur memories of Clayoquot protests for Tofino and Ucluelet locals

She said she had been inspired by Fraser during 1990’s protests and was surprised to hear how few resources there were for visitors to learn about what had happened, so she brought a team together to write and publish the book, which is given to all Hotel Zed guests. She said the book is also being converted into a comic book to be more accessible to younger travellers.

“One thing I heard loud and clear was that we needed to be a place where people can get educated on the land. You don’t bring partiers, you’re bringing a certain type of tourist to Tofino and those are people that want to be connected to the land and that want to spend time on the land,” she said. “It breaks my heart that so many people come in and out of Tofino without even knowing about that globally significant event that happened that is the reason why we have tourism in Tofino. Otherwise, we would have been a resource-based economy and we would have been logged.”

READ MORE: Tourism Tofino says town’s visitation generates $240 million annually

Along with the book, she said early feedback also led to the creation of a community meeting room inside the hotel that’s available to locals for free.

“Those are just two examples of how important we feel it is to listen and build a product that locals want,” she said.

She acknowledged the hotel’s colour scheme has raised eyebrows and ire, but said Hotel Zed’s usual brand colours were changed to fit into the community.

“We changed our colours for Tofino,” she said. “All the other Zeds have a completely different colour palette. Our [Tofino] Zed is, in our opinion, much more subdued and we felt fit in much better with the rainforest and with the vibe of Tofino…I feel like it kind of reflects a lot of the colours of a Tofino sunset, but not everyone feels that way.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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