Students and others cause problems: Kamloops RCMP Inspector

Courtney Cox:  Omega Contributor  Ω

While some TRU students look forward to weekends, some police officers in Kamloops have come to dread them.

According to Kamloops RCMP Inspector Yves Lacasse, police spend most of their weekend nights “babysitting drunks.”

On Tuesday, March 8, city council held a workshop to discuss how local bars serve their patrons, with the focus on two locations—The Duchess on Tranquille Road and Rivers on Lansdowne Street.

Cactus Jacks Saloon was also examined, but according to statistics gathered by the RCMP, it’s not the main cause of the weekend after-bar ruckus.

Though no decision was reached, RCMP representatives and council spoke about ramifications for establishment owners.

Coun. Denis Walsh feels that that city should evaluate consequences for liquor primary businesses, like restricting or reducing hours of operation at establishments that are seen as causing trouble for the RCMP of Kamloops.

“I agree with you they need a spanking,” said Lacasse.

Complaints include excessive noise, blocking entrances and sidewalks and drunk and disorderly behavior. According to the RCMP, these calls are taking away police resources.

Though over-serving plays a large role in the problems that arise on weekends, according to police, the main issue is caused when the doors close and the streets are flooded with drunken bar patrons.

Lacasse said he has been forced to put more patrol on the streets Friday and Saturday nights to deal with disturbances caused by intoxicated students and others milling around the downtown core.

Also considered was soft-closing, which would allow bars to stop serving alcohol at 2 a.m. but keep the doors open until 3 a.m. This would, ideally, give patrons time to wind down and become more level-headed before making their way home.

According to city community development manager Randy Lambright, representatives of the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch wish to come and talk to council about the soft closing policy. The agency highly opposes the policy and a meeting was tentatively set for Tuesday of this week.

Lambright also said that the city has numerous neighbour agreements with many bars and pubs, some of which address some of the issues discussed Tuesday.

Mayor Peter Milobar and Coun. Tina Lange did not attend the workshop as their businesses hold liquor licenses.

Owners of the two club primarily discussed on during the workshop were also not in attendance at the meeting though both have installed new security measures in the past couple of months.

The owners and operators of Rivers, Gordon Van and Angela Jackson, have spent upwards of $20,000 in extra measures such as lighting and the recent addition of identification scanners.

“We are listening, come [and] talk,” said Jackson, adding that the owners are willing to meet with RCMP and city council to discuss the issues.

Owners of the Duchess could not be reached for comment.