B.C. RCMP officers' bar proposal under scrutiny

A former B.C. solicitor general and senior police officer says he thinks RCMP plans for a bar seating up to 500 people at its new B.C. headquarters is not a good idea.

The RCMP is proposing an officers-only bar at its new regional headquarters in Surrey, but at least one former senior B.C. police officer says he thinks it’s a bad idea.

The bar would be inside the new B.C. headquarters building, still under construction at 14200 Green Timbers Way, and would seat about 100, expandable to 500 people for special events.

"The mess will be open on a Wednesday, Thursday, Friday basis and will be open from after-work hours until approximately 11 o'clock at night to begin with," said RCMP spokesman, Cpl. Bernie Conroy.

But Liberal MLA and former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed says times have changed and the RCMP should reconsider.

"I cannot believe that we cannot ensure that alcohol-related behaviour, which is unacceptable in the culture nowadays ... cannot be changed within the RCMP," Heed said.

Recent incidents

Heed pointed to a number of recent incidents involving alcohol.  

RCMP Cpl. Monty Robinson was convicted of obstructing justice in a deadly 2008 crash in which alcohol had been alleged to be a factor.

Sgt. Don Ray was demoted after admitting he had sex with employees and drank with them in Alberta. Ray has since been transferred B.C.  

In the 1990's an RCMP mess hall in Prince Edward Island was shut down after an officer who had been drinking there hit a boy with his car, killing the child.

Surrey's city council has to approve the liquor licence application and Mayor Diane Watts said councillors will be taking a close look at the RCMP proposal.  

"If you have a regimental dinner or a retirement, I don't think people have an issue. The other piece we are definitely going to have a look at," Watts said Friday.

Council will begin to consider the application Monday.

A spokeswoman for federal Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews said in a statement late Friday that the officers' mess in the new headquarters building is not subsidized by taxpayer dollars and would be paid for by contributions from members.

The statement also said that there are strict orders on when it is appropriate to serve alcohol, and, "obviously no member who is on duty can be served."


With files from the CBC's Renee Filippone