Restaurant owner apologizes for 'ignorant decision' to host rowdy party at B.C. ski resort

·3 min read
The village centre at Big White ski resort is pictured in 2017. The owner of a restaurant in the ski community near Kelowna, B.C., has apologized after the establishment hosted a rowdy party on Monday night. (Shutterstock / Tpt - image credit)
The village centre at Big White ski resort is pictured in 2017. The owner of a restaurant in the ski community near Kelowna, B.C., has apologized after the establishment hosted a rowdy party on Monday night. (Shutterstock / Tpt - image credit)

The owner of a restaurant at B.C.'s Big White ski resort that hosted a rowdy party on Monday evening has apologized for the "ignorant decision" that, resort management said Wednesday, has left the restaurant looking for a new home.

"I take full ownership for this ignorant decision that I made out of pure selfish frustration over the recent announcement, regarding COVID restrictions in our community. My decision to let [this] happen was wrong," Justin Reid, the owner of Charley Victoria's All Day Après, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, after news of the party broke.

"What happened at Charley's Monday night was unacceptable and did not demonstrate leadership or compassion for my community, in which I care deeply about."

A large crowd of young people got together at the restaurant late Monday, hours after B.C. health officials announced that indoor dining at restaurants and pubs would be shut down as of midnight in an effort to stop a surge in cases of COVID-19.

Video from the party showed people dancing, hugging and partying on top of tables at the restaurant, which is located in the resort community near Kelowna.

Michael Ballingall, senior vice-president at Big White, said he became aware of the party shortly after 7 p.m., while it was still underway.

"The entire management team are absolutely disgusted, appalled, embarrassed," Ballingall told CBC News on Tuesday.

He told CBC News at least two resort staff members identified in the video would be fired for attending the party. He also said by hosting the unsanctioned party, Reid showed a "blatant disregard" for his contract with the resort.

"We have issued a termination to the agreement and to the lease between our company and his and we are asking them to vacate the premises by [this] Friday," Ballingall said.

On Wednesday the resort announced it is closing for the season one week earlier than initially planned over concerns of possible COVID-19 spread by people from the Lower Mainland who had indicated they wanted to travel to the Okanagan to ski.

Charley Victoria's is in its first year of business.

In his post, Reid also apologized to the resort. "I'm aware and realize what I potentially jeopardized for them, and for that, I'm truly sorry," he wrote.

WATCH | Restaurant in B.C. resort community hosted large party:

RCMP investigating

RCMP confirmed they were made aware of "a large group of patrons" at a bar breaking with provincial COVID-19 orders.

They said the party was over by the time officers arrived, but they are reviewing video footage and will be investigating.

As of Tuesday, no fines had been issued and no charges had been laid.

Indoor social gatherings have been banned across B.C. since November.

Ballingall said up to 70 people who work on the mountain were laid off as a result of the new indoor dining restrictions announced Monday.

He alleged that representatives of the restaurant spread the word Monday afternoon that they were open and offering deep discounts on food and drinks.

The Big White community was hit by a large cluster of COVID-19 cases late last year. More than 230 people were infected, with many of the cases linked to social gatherings and staff sharing living spaces.