Owner of restaurant at Big White resort evicted after hosting party out of 'selfish frustration'

A B.C. ski resort has taken the "unprecedented" step of terminating the lease of a restaurant on its property after video surfaced of a crowded party full of unmasked young people drinking and dancing on tables on the eve of a new prohibition on indoor dining in the province.

Big White Ski Resort senior vice president Michael J Ballingall told CTV News Vancouver on Wednesday that the ski area has begun the process of evicting Charley Victoria's All Day Après after the incident.

"We’ve never really had to do that before," Ballingall said.

In a statement posted on the restaurant's Facebook page and shared with media outlets, Charley Victoria's owner Justin Reid says he takes "full ownership" of the "ignorant decision" he made to allow the party to happen.

In the statement, Reid says he made that decision "out of pure selfish frustration over the recent announcement regarding COVID restrictions in our community."

"I take full accountability for (and) accept all consequences of this poor decision," Reid says. "As a community, we have all been working so hard and making sacrifices to curb COVID-19 and keep each other safe, and 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."

The video prompted outrage from Ballingall, who told CTV News Vancouver that hotel staff promptly reported the party to the RCMP after they noticed what was happening.

"We were absolutely disgusted, appalled, embarrassed," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

"I mean this is incredibly disappointing to all the restaurants on the mountain that have really worked so hard, as the mountain has, to keep everyone safe."

On Wednesday, Ballingall called Reid a "great guy" and praised his business, but said his response to the new public health orders made it necessary for the ski resort to part ways with him.

"He certainly runs a very good business, a very popular establishment throughout the years, but unfortunately when the provincial health officer orders came down on Monday, he decided to take a different direction and to have quite the party," Ballingall said.

"He has accepted that we have sent him a termination clause. He will be evicted from the premises in the next 48 hours. He's been asked to clean out the establishment before Good Friday."

A statement from Kelowna RCMP suggests the party shut down fairly quickly once it was reported. The detachment told CTV News via email that "officers attended and confirmed that the incident was not ongoing."

"We are reviewing video footage that has been supplied to us and will be conducting a full investigation," RCMP said. "No violation tickets or charges have been laid at this time."

Asked why it reportedly took officers two hours to respond to the incident, police said they prioritize calls based on "daily call volume and other detachment priorities."

"While we have a community office in the Big White area, the area is policed by Kelowna and West Kelowna officers," the detachment said in an email. "This was reported as a COVID-19 Related Measures violation and our officers responded as quickly as the day allowed them to, and are conducting a thorough investigation."

In addition to his general apology for the incident, Reid's statement specifically apologizes to Big White Ski Resort and to the restaurant's staff.

"The Charley’s team has made my business what it is today and is the reason so many people have enjoyed coming here," he says. "I owe you all so much, and will work to earn your trust back as a leader."

He concludes his apology by thanking frontline and essential workers in the Okanagan for their work during the pandemic.

"I’m so very sorry for the disrespect I’ve displayed," he says.