The community of Clearwater, B.C., is concerned a liquor licence application from Trans Mountain for its nearby work camp will keep workers from visiting local pubs and restaurants, which are in desperate need of business to make up for the lack of tourism this summer.
In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for Trans Mountain said the decision to pursue a liquor licence was made after consultation with stakeholders. The plan is to only allow alcohol in a controlled lounge, while following provincial regulations, including physical distancing and gathering rules.
The idea is that workers will be able to have a glass of wine or beer after work without leaving the camp.
District mayor and council voted to defeat the motion, with the intention to call a second public hearing, in the hopes they can get more information about the proposal and comments from the public.
"The proponent was evolving their proposal right up to the moment we got to the door and not all of that information was out there in the public," Mayor Merlin Blackwell told Daybreak Kamloops host Shelley Joyce.
"Everybody on council had butterflies in their stomach on this."
Blackwell said leading up to the hearing, council didn't receive a single submission in support of the application.
That information would be no surprise to Jeff Lamond, president of the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, who has been speaking with his members about the proposal.
"The overall consensus is that it's not a welcome addition to our community," he said.
He said businesses want workers to visit their establishments and spend money, because they'll be missing tourist traffic.
"Taking that opportunity away from them could hurt their bottom line this summer," Lamond said.
"I would like to see part of the trickle down effect of this project to all of our members."
Arguments for granting the application, Blackwell said, include keeping workers away from the community and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.
However, he said, the 130 person capacity lounge would likely have a 50-person limit in accordance with provincial regulations, and if there are upwards of 500 people in the camp, some of them are bound to visit the community anyway.
Additionally, having alcohol available at the camp could decrease the possibility of drinking and driving within Clearwater.
But Lamond said there are taxi services in Clearwater, which would be another business that would benefit from having workers come into town.
Blackwell expects another public hearing to be scheduled for mid-August. In the meantime, he hopes to hear more from the public, as well as Trans Mountain.