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PNWER ‘business as usual’ for RCMP

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Police will monitor protest, but look at PNWER as just another big event

As of Pique Newsmagazine’s press time on July 25, PNWER activists had still not made good on their plans to set up a tent city in Rebagliati Park.

According to Whistler RCMP Constable Ray Bernoties, the RCMP "will always facilitate a peaceful protest" while ensuring "a peaceful conference, and a peaceful time for all visitors to the resort. We will have a police presence, but we don’t feel it will be heavy or completely out of the ordinary."

The police will monitor the event closely, and Bernoties said they will be able to call in backup if the protest escalates. He could not go into details on what security measures the police are planning for the conference, or what kinds of tactics will be used to control crowds in different and potentially violent situations, but said as far as the local RCMP are concerned, it’s business as usual.

"There will be police up from the Lower Mainland, and we will keep assessing the crowd and what we need to have on the ground. We feel we’re well prepared."

This isn’t the first time that the Whistler RCMP has had to deal with crowd situations. New Year’s Eve draws thousands of people to the village, and other mainstream events like the annual snowboard big air at the World Ski and Snowboard Festival draws young crowds estimated to be as large as 15,000.

While the RCMP aren’t taking the activists’ threats to shut down the PNWER lightly, the protest needs to be put into perspective.

"I feel working here we go from one big event to another, and with the practice we’ve had, we’re getting better at dealing with them. And we will continue to learn from any event here," says Bernoties.

In regards to the protesters’ call out for protesters to occupy Rebagliati Park, camping within municipal boundaries is against Whistler bylaws, and Bernoties says the RCMP and municipal bylaw department will enforce that law.

On Saturday, July 28, the "day of mass protests" according to activists, the RCMP have no idea how many people to expect in the village but say they will have a response ready.

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