Bar owner warns of heavy cocaine use in St. John's
A downtown St. John's bar owner says the increased presence and use of hard drugs, including cocaine, is damaging his business and costing him money.
Sandy Chisholm, who has owned CBTGs on George Street for eight years, said Tuesday he has seen big changes in the time he has been running the club.
"It doesn't seem to be one single group. It's all different ages, it's all different incomes and backgrounds that seem to be consuming these drugs," he told CBC News.
Chisholm said drug use is damaging his club, mainly an upstairs bathroom, located away from the crowds.
"For some reasons, a peaceful crowd, when they go upstairs, becomes violent at times and they'll punch holes in the wall. It became apparent over time that basically people were doing hard drugs in the washroom and/or washroom stalls. They were having their aggressive little attacks and then coming downstairs," he said.
Chisholm said his staff knows the people who are using drugs, but they don't confront the users or call police, in part because they might get hurt.
Chisholm is concerned about what he calls the "mass damage" being done inside his bar — he's currently replacing a wall that was vandalized — but he admits he's also seeing an impact on alcohol sales.
"People come down and they spend their $50 or $100 on their drugs," he said. "And they have no money left for drinks. In the end, it is still a business and you need income and money coming in," he said.
Chisholm believes the problem isn't just restricted to George Street. He said illegal drug use, and the problems it brings, is becoming a concern right across the province.
Chisholm said last week's failed parking lot drug bust — during which an RCMP officer fired his gun several times — was the impetus that convinced him to speak out.
RCMP officers were attempting to arrest people in two pickup trucks Jan. 25, in the east end of the city, when a plainclothes RCMP officer fired his 9-mm service pistol at them.
No one was injured in the incident. Police later said it involved a lengthy drug investigation.