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A matter of compliance



RCMP, local bars differ on enforcement of new liquor regulations

For the RCMP, regular foot patrols through the village and local drinking establishments are business as usual for the detachment. The only thing that has changed, according to Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider, are the liquor laws that they are enforcing.

Some places are taking longer to get up to speed than others, he says.

"A lot of our bars were compliant right away, with a few hiccups here and there. Some were non-compliant even before the new regulations came into effect, and that has kind of continued afterwards."

According to a number of local bars, however, there is a perception that the level of enforcement has been excessive recently, and that the RCMP members are not being respectful of customers and staff members.

The most common RCMP complaints recently have to do with checking for two pieces of I.D., exceeding capacity, over serving, and minors in licensed premises. There have also been issues with customers bringing alcohol into bars and restaurants, or taking it out.

One of the most significant of the new liquor license regulations that came into effect Dec. 2, 2002 was a stipulation that license holders were required to check the identification of any patron who appears to be under 25, and two pieces of I.D. are required. In the past, licensees only had to check if a patron appeared to be younger than 19, and only one piece of government-issued photo I.D. was needed.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch recently sent undercover personnel under the age of 25 around Whistler to test compliance, and discovered that only 15 per cent of establishments – four out of 30 – asked for two pieces of I.D. That was slightly better than the provincial average of just 12 per cent compliance, but still low, says Haider.

Like doormen, he says RCMP on foot patrols may ask patrons already inside bars and restaurants for two pieces of I.D. if they appear to be under the age of 25. If they only have one piece of I.D., an establishment is issued a contravention and fined.

"That’s something we’ve always done in the past, and that’s how we still find underage kids in the bars here," Haider says.

Before the new regulations came into effect, the RCMP and Liquor Inspector offered to set up meetings with all the bars to talk about the changes to the laws, as well as protect themselves from liability under the new system. They also informed establishments that staff would require Serving It Right certificates in the future.