The District of Clearwater is holding a second public hearing next month to glean more opinions from the public on a proposal for a Liquor Primary License at the Trans Mountain worker camp.
The applicant, ATCO Frontec, wants to be able to serve alcohol to employees and their guests after work hours and noted there’d be no access to the general public.
The second hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at the Dutch Lake Community Centre at 209 Dutch Lake Rd.
“We really didn’t hear from enough people and we didn’t have the full spectrum of information. Information was still coming to the table, right up to the moment of us starting that meeting,” said Mayor Merlin Blackwell, referring to the first public hearing on the topic, which took place on July 14.
“It didn’t really give us all enough time to consider. Also because Clearwater doesn’t do a lot of public hearings, people aren’t used to it in the community, I don’t think.”
Some of the information that came late and needed more consideration included a proposition from ATCO Frontec that a portion of the proceeds from the potential establishment, which would go under the name Clearwater Lounge, could be donated to a local non-profit or charity.
The fact that the Clearwater Lounge was looking at having 130 seats in the establishment was also concerning to some, but Blackwell said under phase three of COVID-19 restrictions, only about 40 seats could be occupied at any one time, which was something else council wanted to give more consideration to.
“So at this point with what they’re talking about, a possible capacity of the camp being 500 (workers), even with a four to five hour rotation, you’d have to basically have a rotating line up to serve even half those people their two drinks, plus snacks, plus their downtime,” Blackwell said.
“And this is not supposed to be the Tim Horton’s drive-thru of alcohol, it’s supposed to be a relaxation lounge where you spend a couple of hours playing some pool, hang out with people in your small social circles. There’s so much to consider about this.”
Another concern raised by Clearwater residents on social media was the possible spread of COVID-19 from Trans Mountain workers if they didn’t have their own lounge onsite and went out into the community to frequent the bars and restaurants.
Blackwell added he has faith in Trans Mountain’s health screening protocols, noting that the workers would be under a lot more scrutiny than most people as they’d likely be checked every time they entered or left the worksite.
“On the flip side of the whole debate about whether or not we should be isolating in camp is the fact that Trans Mountain’s health check system is probably the strictest thing we’ll see anywhere, including the hospital and medical centre, for daily checks and in and out monitoring,” he said.
“I have to trust at some level that they’re going to try and do it right. So in a bizarre way, that part of my comment on the decision was that I have a lot of confidence in sending their workers out in the community because they’re coming in and out of that gate a couple of times a day and they’re getting checked both ways for health, daily screening, and everything else.”