KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — Five staff members at Big White Ski Resort in the Okanagan were fired after a large party was held at a restaurant near the mountain Monday night.
Video obtained by Castanet shows a large crowd inside Charley Victoria’s, with partygoers dancing, not social distancing, and not wearing facemasks.
Big White Senior Vice President Michael Ballingall says, simply put, this is “disgusting.”
“This party was truly a rager. It was out of control. It was absolutely diabolical,” he said. “This is a blatant disregard for the Health Officer’s orders, and really to the community a Big White. We’ve all been trying so hard to eliminate COVID-19 from the mountain. Our cluster was declared contained last week by the local health officials.”
According to Ballingall, after Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry called for Whistler Blackcomb’s closure because of the concerning transmission related to travel to and from Whistler and other communities, the privately-owned restaurant near Big White discounted its liquor.
“This particular establishment was going to close its doors at midnight last night, and they decided to put all the alcohol and food and beverages on sale for 50 per cent which attracted a lot of the staff from around the mountain and they had a good old fashioned party,” he said Tuesday.
Ballingall says many of the people in attendance appeared to be resort staff who had recently been laid off.
“Unfortunately yesterday when the food and beverage establishment were mandated to close, 60 to 70 of the staff were laid off and I think this was just the staff blowing off steam,” he told NEWS 1130.
“But it gives them no excuse to behave in this manner because it really is dangerous, especially when the virus has been on the mountain,” Ballingall added.
He says the police were called but didn’t arrive until a few hours later, showing up when the party was mostly over.
Ballingall isn’t sure if anyone has been fined. However, he says over 90 per cent of the people that attended the party work on the mountain, Big White has identified a few individuals who were promptly fired.
“We have a social contract with the people that live in our residence and work for our company. And if they break any of the rules as put out by the provincial health officer, their contract is terminated,” he explained.
While five people have been let go so far, Ballingall adds the resort is still looking for a few others.
“They know that they’ve done the wrong thing and some of them will just leave the mountain peacefully and some of them will try to keep their ski passes and we’ll have to cancel that as well,” he said.
Ballingall is pleading with people on the Lower Mainland to avoid visiting to help prevent to spread of the virus.
“We’ll love to have you when it’s safe to do so again. But right now please abide by the provincial health officer’s rules, and that is to stay local.”