Surrey gangsters will be able to enjoy their nachos and beer on the patios of local bars and restaurants unfettered for several more months at least as the city’s Inadmissible Patron Program, or IPP, will likely not be rolled out until year’s end.
“That is a long time to wait,” said Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade. “We’ll be contacting the RCMP and the city as well to expedite activity on it, but they have calls for a December release and I think they just want to make sure it’s done right and collaboratively and not in silos.”
The program, details of which are still being hammered out, is a child of the Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention. It’s report, released in early July, found the Bar Watch and Restaurant Watch programs in other jurisdictions to be “successful at limiting gang member and associate access to popular and high-profile bars and restaurants. In turn, the glamour of gang life is diminished, and the community reinforces that gang behaviours will not be tolerated.”
Bars and restaurants, as anywhere else where people congregate, can sometimes be dangerous places.
For example, in 2009 Christopher Roy Whitmee, 34, was shot dead at Cloverdale’s Legacy Show Lounge. Police determined he was not the intended victim but was rather in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A 31-year-old man was stabbed in the Byrd pub in Whalley in 2015, and in 2002 there was a shooting in a parking lot in the 8600-block of 132nd Street near the Hook & Ladder Pub. In that case, five men in their 20s were injured in a hail of bullets when a vehicle pulled up and gunmen opened fire.
In 2000, Surrey residents Myanh Thi Nguyen, 17, and Tan Cuong Nguyen, 19, died in a hail of bullets fired from automatic weapons as they were dining at a Vietnamese restaurant at 14775 108th Ave.
Surrey RCMP Corporal Elenore Sturko said Wednesday that “no formal date has been set as of yet to commence the IPP. We hope to have it up and running by the end of the year or sooner.”
She said the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team will run the IPP and it “will begin with restaurants and licensed establishments.”
Asked if this will also include banquet halls, Sturko replied that “an expansion of the program will be considered after an assessment of the initial roll-out.”
Sturko said licensed bars and restaurants in Surrey that choose to join the IPP will sign an agreement “that authorizes the Surrey RCMP to act on the establishment’s behalf to identify and remove inadmissible patrons from the premises.”
Huberman can’t wait.
“Our members have actually been wanting a program like this to be implemented for some time,” she said. “Our members are tired of all of this gang activity in Surrey.
“We want Surrey to be an amazing live-work-play destination,” she said.
”We need to work together in order to instigate change and certainly as a Surrey board of trade, our role is to be an outreach for business in terms of education. This program just can’t be like any other inadmissible patrol program, where there’s a decal on the window and you call the local police. There needs to be a ‘made-in-Surrey’ type of design because the employees of these different businesses, whether it’s licensed premises or fitness clubs or whatever it is, they need to have some education and of course there needs to be some relationship and communication mechanism with your local district RCMP office, so we’re waiting to see what the final design is going to be.”
She’d like to see the program at banquet halls too.
“I think every type of business should have an inadmissible patron program. Of course it has to be structured the right way and you can’t have a program where you discriminate against clients coming in but there has to be a reason why you’re not allowing people to patronize your business. So establishments such as fitness clubs, such as banquet halls and others, I think maybe that’s a phase two release, but again I’m still waiting to hear the detail on it.”
The City of Delta has had an inadmissible patron program since 2009, in partnership with Delta businesses and police. Chris Leykauf, spokeswoman for the Delta Police, said it aims “to deter individuals known to be associated to or involved in serious and/or violent activities from seeking entry to or entering participating businesses in the City of Delta.”
She said it applies to members and associates of gangs and other organized crime groups as well as people known to be in the drug trade, and have a history of serious and violent criminal activity as well as a history of firearms offences.
“The Inadmissible Patron Program relies on a signed authorization by the owner or designated representative of each participating business,” Leykauf explained. “The agreement authorizes sworn members of the Delta Police Department to act on the businesses’ behalf to deny entry to and/or remove any persons they determine are associated to or involved in serious and/or violent criminal activities. The agreement is an application of Section 4 — Trespass Prohibited, of the B.C. Trespass Act.”