Owners of Port Alberni pub locked out by bailiff during COVID-19

Owners of Port Alberni pub locked out by bailiff during COVID-19
WatchThe Westwind Pub closed due to the coronavirus March 18 but the owners fully expected to open again after Provincial health officials gave the go-ahead. Instead, the former owner and lender to the current owner has changed the locks and kicked them out.

The Westwind Pub has been pouring customers in Port Alberni a pint for the last 33 years.

So when the pub found itself having to close its doors after St. Patrick’s Day because of the coronavirus, owner Michelle Cote looked forward to the day the pub could open again, once provincial health officials gave the go-ahead.

But it appears that reopening is no longer a possibility, at least for now.

“That was the last day that we were ever open,” recalled Cote. “We didn’t think that we’d be closing permanently but the bailiff came and locked our doors.”

A letter posted on the glass by a bailiff states “default of lease – unpaid rent” as the reason.

It had been a tough year for owners Michelle Cote and her partner Brent Wallin.

Business was down $40,000 a month during the Western Forest Products strike and then COVID-19 hit. They say they still managed to stay almost up to date on their payments, only getting behind in the last couple of months.

“Very disheartened, I felt betrayed after all those years,” said Cote.

“I’m kind of lost right now without it you know, I was used to coming here all the time, I came here seven days a week,” added Wallin.

Cote and Wallin purchased the business from the previous owner whom they don’t want to identify fearing further problems. They also leased the building from him as well, so he became their landlord and private lender.

They wonder if things would be different if they had used a bank instead.

“If we had gone through a bank instead of through him, the banks would have understood the situation a little bit more considering the virus and mandatory business shutdowns,” said Cote.

Cote and Wallin claim they’ve even had to retrieve personal items including tax documents from a dumpster that the previous owner was using to clean the place out.

They say they have say hired a lawyer to help them with the matter.

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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