Bob Mackin : Will the gendarmes guzzle in Green Timbers?

Never could figure out why the new (p3) E division headquarters in Surrey was costing so darn much, other than that fact P3’s always do gouge the taxpayer. Might it have something to do with an area within the new headquarters that has applied for a liquor license and will operate like a ” private club” for RCMP and guests? Hmmmm.

Will the Gendarmes guzzle in Green Timbers?  Bob Mackin brings the news to public light on his outstanding site, 2010 GoldRush, and the story is already being picked up elsewhere.

This Yahoo News blog by Andy Radia has this to say:

“Traditionally in Canada, police headquarters and even fire halls have been given liquor licenses to serve alcohol to their ‘off-duty’ officers.

According to the Northwest Territory liquor distribution branch, the purpose of a licensed mess/canteen is to allow those who work in public protection to enjoy an off-duty drink out of the public eye.

“Because of the nature of their jobs, these individuals are often unfairly expected to be “on-duty” at all times, their website notes.

“It is difficult for them to relax and enjoy a few drinks in a restaurant or bar without public scrutiny or public expectation of their services.”

But is this really appropriate in 2012?

More importantly, is this application really appropriate for a national police force that has been rocked by scandal after scandal over the past decade?

In November, the RCMP took another hit to its beleaguered reputation when two female officers went to the  media with complaints about a systemic problem of sexual harassment within RCMP ranks.

More recently, there was the case of Donald Ray, the ex-Alberta Mountie who was disciplined — but not fired — for sexual misconduct and drinking on the job.

Do we really want to introduce more alcohol into the RCMP ‘culture’?

Do we really need officers coiffing a few pints at work after a tough day on the job and then driving home?

During a period of time where the RCMP is trying to restore their reputation, applying for a liquor license is not a smart public relations move.

The Harper government has spent an endless amount of time and money getting ‘tough on crime’ — perhaps it’s about time they got tougher on the Mounties.”

I have to agree.

 Besides the fact that I  strongly object to what the long term costs of this facility are going to be for cities – I’ve shown time and time again, P3 projects are not in the best interest of the taxpayers, who end up paying far more to give the private investor an overinflated return – I don’t think having a liquor license in RCMP headquarters is ok.

No one knows you are a mountie if you go for a drink in a pub off-duty, and in your street clothes, so no one is watching you and no one is judging – I just don’t buy into the ‘needing a private place to toss one back without being judged’ argument.  I do however, think that if an off duty mountie is tossing one back in a pub,drives home, is stopped and blows over, then the people in the pub would or could be called as a witness to how much was served, what kind of behavior was exhibited etc..

However,if an off duty officer tosses a couple back in a private clublike facility in headquarters, drives home in street clothes, is stopped and blows over… will the staff at headquarters testify to how much he drank? Or if he drank at all ? I just don’t like the implications, considering how many repeated examples the public have seen of the RCMP covering up for their own.

I know several RCMP members and by no means paint them all with the same brush. They are great people, take their job seriously, and do their best. But let them drink at the pub, or at home, like the rest of us, and face the same consequences. There is no place for drinking in RCMP headquarters in this day and age.

Now go read Bob’s great story on this.

22 thoughts on “Bob Mackin : Will the gendarmes guzzle in Green Timbers?

  1. Just ridiculous.
    Next they’ll want to legalize cocaine and do a few lines in the board room rather than having to shuffle of to the bathroom to do it on “the sly”.

    You just know they’ll want the taxpayer to pay for the “chits” as well, for officers to get a “cab” home and, most likely back to the dept the next day to pickup their vehicle.
    Then they’ll want a steak and lobster BBQ Grill to complement their new bar because hey, it’s dangerous out there (in public) when eating you know.
    The insanity just doesn’t stop.

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    1. Laila

      Very good point. I have no problem with company cafeterias – many large companies do as a perk of the job. None that I know of allow liquor to be served or imbibed on the premises, and even company Christmas parties have moved to a cash bar to ward off any drinking driving liability for serving liquor. Big difference here is the RCMP is not a public company. Have a cafeteria with decent food the officers pay for themselve, no liquor license needed. Sounds like this place intends to be more than a cafeteria though…

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  2. I want a bar where I work too, oh yeah, I forgot, I’m retired. Seriously though, most civilized cities, which may or may not apply to Surrey, have normal public establishments that become law enforcement hangouts, though other members of the public are allowed, if they can tolerate being surrounded by cops. Police like to hang together and these bars just arise naturally like other bars may attract other societal types from longshoremen to stockbrokers. I forget the name of the cop bar in Vancouver, but when I lived there in the eighties there was one somewhere near downtown, I remember a woman I knew who worked there because she was so upset when one of her regular customers was killed on duty, busting through a door in Kits – that was when and how I learned where she was employed.

    In the Lower Vainland, or any big metropolitan area, police can drink in civvies totally anonymously and even in my little Kootenay village of a few hundred, the highly recognizable RCMP members have no qualms about going to the local pub to dine and/or imbibe.

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    1. Laila

      Right on. Cops off duty dont stick out here. Dont need to be drinking in headquarters. Someone should start looking into which firehalls and other agencies supply liquor. Theres a huge story.

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  3. Another disturbing result, in my mind, is the separation of the RCMP from civil society. The more cloistered they become, the easier it is to use them in a military context against the society they are supposed to protect.

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    1. Laila

      I like that point Kim. That seperation is what creates too much of a rift,in my opinion. The force needs to, in my opinion, be cleaned out from the top down before any real change is going to happen.

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  4. Jack Hackett

    The problem is that our police forces do not generally interact within the communities but would rather interact with their own. A retired chief of police from Edmonton once commented ‘I do not mind my officers spending time in coffee shops so long as they are there on their own and not congregating with other officers’ All too often we see large groups of ‘on duty’ officers congregating in local restaurants or Tim Hortons, not interacting with the general populace but within their own group. Wonder what happened to the traditional cop who patrolled the communty on foot being aware of what was happening within the area of his/her beat.

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  5. Curt

    From my experience in the past, there is and was nothing wrong with officers going for a beer in the local pubs. No patrons cared they were cops. They were civilians now and entitled to have a beer. After leaving my original community and relocating, I recall the pub downtown for officers. Nothing wrong with that. They all enjoyed it as well as some court officers. They’re human too.
    I agree with you Laila, there are some good policemen out there, there are some who would be better suited to other jobs. All in all though, pretty good experiences with police. You’ll always have those few, and there were.
    What I see here is absolute elitism. Have the RCMP or any police force for that matter, not learned anything from recent events? Appears pretty hypocritcal imo. No, there shouldn’t be a licence granted at any police headquarters.

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  6. Laila

    Good point. I know at the Timmy H close to the Surrey main RCMP office is loaded with RCMP at certain times of the day, and yes, people do comment on it as the typical cliche. There are cops that have a walking beat in Newton , at the bus loop which is the hub of everything Surrey is made fun of, and they need it. Hookers in broad daylight, drug deals, theft… but that is a rarity in many places now.

    Bob does great work, imagine what we wouldnt know without him around? Shudder to think about it!!

    Cknw has the RCMP defending this liquor license this morning…

    The Mounties are defending plans to serve alcohol at the RCMP’s new BC headquarters in Surrey.

    “It’s a multi-purpose facility. It’s something like a community hall.”

    Corporal Bernie Conroy says the current E-Division complex in Vancouver has had a so-called ‘mess’ hall for years.

    ”That licence allows us to be open seven days a week as per what’s written on that sign in surrey right now. However, the commanding officer does not allow us to do that and we’re only open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Most nights, no one is in the facility after nine o’clock.”

    Speaking with CKNW Bill Good, Conroy says he doubts the maximum capacity of nearly 12-hundred occupants –with 561 seats– will ever be reached.

    A public hearing will be held at Surrey City Hall on Monday night.

    If the licence is approved, the hall would operate from 11am to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays, and 11am to 2am Fridays and Saturdays.

    Something like a community hall eh? IS it open to the public? Can we have weddings there? Rent it for a community function? Or is that a really nice bit of PR spin to make it look good…..?

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  7. Curt

    Laila, you raise the same thing I would. Community Hall? I’m sure they won’t be allowing “citizens” to join them now will they? Weddings? Special occasion rentals?

    PR Spin is exactly what it is imo. “Corporal Bernie Conroy says the current E-Division complex in Vancouver has had a SO-CALLED MESS HALL FOR YEARS.” SO-CALLED? Care to elaborate.

    Repeat: Elitism at its best. Some just don’t get it do they?

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  8. e.a.f.

    Will things never change? Don’t these people “get it”? Who was the idiot who thought a bar at RCMP headquarters would be a good idea? I can just see the court rooms now even if it never happened. A lawyer could make all sorts of lovely arguments. Your honour, the arresting officer stopped during questioning & went for a drink…………

    Police do not need a seperate place to drink. That is just so much old school thinking. It is part of the reason the RCMP got into so much trouble. The officers were isolated from general society & that always leds to problems.

    Having a drink after work & then driving home????? Not the brightest idea. Any enterprising reporter could set up outside headquarters & check to see how the RCMP were driving. Lets not make it any esier than it already is to get into trouble.

    Nobody knows who cops are when they are out for an evening unless they tell people. What a waste of my tax dollars.

    I can certainly see the need for a good cafeteria & gymp but a bar, who are they kidding.

    Perhaps the new commissioner could have a look at this & put a stop to it before the bar creates more work for him than he already will have regarding discipline within the RCMP.

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  9. Rick

    The unRoyal Canadian? unMounted Police(policy enforcement force) could open up a private club on the individuals’ own dime the same as a lot of other militarized and not militarized groups do. Not on the ratepayers dimes.

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    1. Laila

      Here is the latest from CBC to hop on the liquor wagon…. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/06/22/bc-rcmp-headquarters-bar.html

      Apparently Surrey city council has no issue with regimental dinners or a retirement, but it is the other thing they( council) have to look at.

      Hello. Watts and crew will listen to the crowd and approve it, that is my prediction. No consideration of having special event licenses for above activities, which can be issued. This is not about events, this is about cops being able to drink behind closed doors and out of public view.

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  10. So they are cutting timber in Green Timbers or have already cut it down – reducing one of our nature reserves in area to build a booze up, among other things for over 1200 RCMP and will they also have a lock up in there for DUI’s and other intoxicated offenders? Something is wrong with this picture.

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  11. Laila

    The possibility of a liquor license still is pending before the province….. Council forwarded it to the province with no recommendation for or against, no comments.

    http://www.surreyleader.com/news/175287291.html
    Booze licence for RCMP headquarters sits with Victoria

    An application for a liquor licence at the new B.C. RCMP headquarters in Green Timbers is now being considered by Victoria after Surrey council passed it on without making recommendations.

    In June, the RCMP asked for Surrey council’s blessing for a liquor licence for a mess hall at a new $263-million headquarters now under construction in Green Timbers Urban Forest.

    The licence was for a 500-seat mess hall that would seat up to 1,200 people.

    Many members of the public were outraged that the RCMP wanted a bar on the premises, even though mess halls have been a long-standing tradition with the Mounties.

    Surrey council wasn’t enthused with approving the proposal. Instead, in June, council forwarded the application to the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (BCLCLB) without offering any comment on the application.

    Coun. Marvin Hunt said at the time he was amazed to see the application on the city’s agenda.

    “I’ve never heard before of the federal government ever asking the local government’s permission to get a provincial government licence,” Hunt said. “The reality is, they can do whatever they want because they’re the federal government.”

    That’s not the case with Victoria. The Mounties will need clearance from the BCLCLB before opening a beer in that building.

    The approval process can take between seven months to a year, meaning Mounties may not have an answer on their application until June of 2013. With an election in May, the decision might be up to the next provincial government.

    Mounties say the liquor licence would be used for other purposes than just a mess hall for officers.

    RCMP say it would be also used for regimental dinners and veterans’ celebrations.

    A bar currently exists at B.C. RCMP headquarters in Vancouver (which is moving to Green Timbers).

    The mess hall in Vancouver is open from about 3:30 p.m. to about 8 p.m.

    If someone has too much to drink, Mounties are allowed to take a cab home free-of-charge, a service paid for out of RCMP dues.

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