That’s the grand edifice being built under a private/public partnership scheme by a giant French concern. Municipalities already under pressure to sign a 20-year deal to continue RCMP service are fearing the bill for Green Timbers. Burnaby, for example, estimates it could be dinged $1.5 million-a-year for the Surrey HQ. (Read my story in The Tyee here and my story from Business in Vancouver here)
This is the same RCMP whose Sgt. Don Ray got into trouble for drinking on the job. And it’s the same RCMP whose Cpl. Benjamin “Monty” Robinson got in trouble for drinking off the job. Both are still employed by the force. Robinson was convicted March 23 of obstructing justice and the RCMP’s top B.C. cop, Craig Callens, says he’s trying his darnedest to fire Robinson. Ray was found to have had “nooners” in the lie detector suite and enjoyed wobbly pops on the job. His discipline included transfer from Alberta to B.C. He may even get to work in Surrey at the new headquarters.
“The intent of the proposed liquor primary license is to provide liquor service only to Commissioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, civilian members, public service employees (RCMP personnel), and their adult guests,” the City of Surrey planning and development report says. “The proposed liquor primary license will operate like a private club for RCMP personnel. There will be approximately 2,700 employees at this location.”
If the licence is granted as-is, hours would be 11 a.m. to midnight, Sundays through Thursdays, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and the maximum permitted capacity would be just shy of 1,200.
The report says E Division already has a liquor primary licence at its officers’ mess in the existing headquarters in Vancouver. The nearest off-campus bar in Surrey is Amber Jack’s Taphouse, 1.2 kilometres away at 9850 King George Blvd.
“It should be noted that the person capacity requested on the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch application is 1,198 people, and that the seating capacity proposed is 561 seats. As the building is currently under construction, the total person capacity of 1,198 people is subject to final approval of the floor plans,” says the report.
An unidentified area resident called Surrey city hall to express concern “about recent media publications of allegations of officers driving drunk, causing crashes and injuring civilians. This caller was concerned about providing a liquor establishment for the specific use of officers.”
The report says RCMP mess establishments are insured and those who’ve had one-too-many can be supplied taxi chits.
Surrey city council decided June 25 not to hold a public hearing. Mayor Dianne Watts said she is not opposed to liquor being served at special occasions, such as formal regimental dinners, but not on a daily basis. So now the matter is referred to the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch, whose general manager is Karen Ayers. Her boss is liquor minister Rich Coleman, who just so happens to be an ex-RCMP officer. He was profiled in Vancouver Magazine in 2009, which included photos of Coleman in RCMP red serge and under a stetson.
What do you think? Should the City of Surrey allow the RCMP to have what would essentially be a sanctioned beer hall? Should the long arm of the law be allowed to bend an elbow at the workplace? You can let Ayers and Coleman know your thoughts.
For the time being, share your comments below.
News and views on Vancouver 2010 (and beyond) from Bob Mackin.