Downtown bars and restaurants have hammered out a code of conduct to deal with unruly, intoxicated or violent patrons.
The bar safe program is a strategic partnership between the City, RCMP, B.C. Liquor and Licencing branch, businesses and taxi companies, in an effort to enhance the safety of people and protect property in downtown.
So far, 12 licenced bars or restaurants have agreed to follow the code of conduct, which says patrons fighting, being disorderly, overly intoxicated, displaying gang colours and using or selling drugs will not be tolerated in those establishments.
The program is about creating agreed upon standards between the participating bars and restaurants to make the downtown safe, said Jon Wilson, Kamloops community safety and enforcement manager.
“We want to see a better, safer downtown,” said Dino Bernardo, owner of the Commodore Grand Café and Lounge. “It’s about being part of the solution, not the problem.”
The bars and restaurants will strive to have open lines of communication with each other to make sure that unruly patrons are not jumping from one establishment to the next.
If a patron is kicked out of one bar for being rowdy or uncooperative, then other bars want to know about that individual, said Bernardo.
Dealing with crowds after the bars close downtown has been a problem for RCMP.
Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said it has been hard to control and manage the streets and in some cases, police have had to shut down whole city blocks due to rowdy bar patrons flushing out onto the streets at once.
“(RCMP) will continue to check licensed premises and we will have an additional presence and maintain a high visibility,” said Learned.
Additionally, the City has worked with cab companies to create a taxi stand pilot program to help move people out of the downtown after the bars close.
The stands will be located at either end of the 400 block of Lansdowne as well as on both sides of the 200 block of Victoria Street.
From 10 p.m. till 3 a.m., cabbies will come to the designated points to pick up patrons and will not stop for people trying to flag them down elsewhere downtown.
They will, however, continue to provide direct service for restaurants and clients who specifically call for pickup.
“The main purpose is for bar patrons to know where the cabs are going to come automatically, instead of being stuck on a street corner waiting for a taxi to drive by,” said Satinder Mann, general manager of Kami Cabs. “Our drivers will appreciate it because they will have a specific place to wait for patrons.”
It will create awareness “for patrons to move to taxi zones,” added Wilson.
In support of the initiative, the City has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to call for additional transportation solutions.
“The RFPs are currently being reviewed and if we come up with any more creative solutions, then we will implement them right away,” said Wilson.
The taxi stands are being put in place this weekend.