Ladysmith will be getting a Bar Watch Program to increase safety in pubs and bars.
Council voted Nov. 3 to endorse the Town’s participation in the implementation of the Ladysmith Bar Watch Program, in conjunction with the Ladysmith RCMP Detachment and local liquor-primary establishments.
Council has expressed an interested in establishing a Bar Watch Program in Ladysmith in the past, and the Ladysmith RCMP has recently come forward and requested that council consider establishing such a program as soon as possible, corporate services director Sandy Bowden explained in her report to council.
There’s been a Bar Watch Program in Nanaimo since 2007, and the program is modelled after a program initially established in the United Kingdom and subsequently in Vancouver. In Vancouver, each participating establishment is required to install a video camera (CCTV) at its entrance, alongside Bar Watch signs. Vancouver’s Bar Watch Program is governed by a non-profit Bar Watch Society. Bowden explained to council that this society meets monthly, and these meetings are attended by representatives of the Vancouver Police Department, as well as provincial liquor licence inspectors, representatives of the city’s fire department and other city divisions.
Each participating establishment in Vancouver’s Bar Watch Program pays annual dues of $1,000 to cover legal fees, sponsorship commitments and administration fees. As well, participating establishments must sign a Bar Watch Agreement, explained Bowden.
Bowden says it is unknown at this time the extent of the financial implications associated with the Ladysmith Bar Watch Program, but staff will discuss it with the RCMP, and if deemed appropriate, will establish an annual amount to be paid by program participants to cover legal fees, sponsorship commitments and administration fees.
Councillors were in full support.
“We looked at this some time ago, a number of years ago, and at the time, the detachment was looking to make it a regional program,” noted Coun. Gord Horth. “We’ve had a recommendation from our local detachment commander to implement this, and with good reason, so I firmly support this one.”
Coun. Jillian Dashwood was “totally in support” of the program, especially with three new establishments opening in town.
“I think it’s really important that we start working towards these goals and making sure we have safety in our community,” she said.
Mayor Rob Hutchins noted that this is just the beginning of the process, and there are still questions that need to be answered. While the original approach was to include all the pubs within the Ladysmith detachment area, including Timberlands Pub for example, this approach is just for the town because this is not applicable to rural area liquor establishments, he explained.
From here, staff will schedule a meeting with the RCMP to determine next steps in the process. Bowden anticipates that local liquor-primary establishments will be advised of the program and requested to participate.
At the same council meeting, Coun. Jillian Dashwood, on behalf of the Social Planning Cowichan homelessness committee, asked if the Town could look into providing showers to homeless people.
She asked if the Town could, through the Ladysmith Resources Centre Association, issue passes to the Frank Jameson Community Centre so that people who don’t have a place to shower could use the showers there. She is also going to approach the Ladysmith Maritime Society about providing shower access.
“This is giving an opportunity for people who don’t have a home to be clean,” she said.
Council was supportive of asking staff to look into how this could be done and come back to council with a recommendation.
The Nov. 3 meeting was Coun. Glenda Patterson’s penultimate meeting, as she did not seek re-election on Nov. 15. She shared a few words with council, reflecting on the 15 years in total that she spent in the council chambers.
“I’m stepping down for personal reasons and medical reasons,” she said. “There were times when I felt like it was a boys’ club, but we must remember: behind every successful man, there is a good woman. I’m truly proud of having served Ladysmith and its citizens. It has been a learning and a rewarding experience. I wish all the candidates good luck, and I will miss you. Thanks for the memories.”