Privacy concerns persist as Victoria adopts Barwatch program
Last Updated: Wednesday, July 8, 2009 | 3:00 PM PT
Anyone heading to a Victoria bar or club may soon expect to have their ID scanned and entered into a database as part of a new program to help the operators keep troublemakers out.
Thirteen downtown bars launched a Barwatch program Wednesday, based on the controversial program started in Vancouver five years ago.
The participating bars in Victoria include the 500-seat Strathcona Hotel and make up more than a third of the city's primary liquor establishments.
Anyone causing problems in one venue will be banned from all others. Bans may last from one night to one year.
B.C.'s privacy commissioner David Loukidelis has been looking into concerns about the Vancouver program for the past four years
But Victoria police Const. Lori Beauvais believes she knows why he hasn't yet made a ruling.
"It would be very difficult to … impart on a decision that would exclude the use of the item when clearly it does save lives," she said.
Beauvais said reports from Vancouver show random gunfire has been virtually eliminated from the areas where the clubs participate in Barwatch. The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police has called it "demonstrably necessary for the safety and security of late night venues," according to Beauvais.
The Vancouver Barwatch Program has done an awesome job of eliminating random gunfire outside of clubs. Now, increased shootings are being pushed out to other residential, commercial and industrial areas. Nice work!
And as for Cnst. Beauvais, musing aloud that the privacy commissioner hasn't ruled on the program because it saves lives, that's a silly law and order argument that doesn't surprise me coming from a cop. One can easily counterargue that the death penalty, Camp XRay/Gitmo and the US PATRIOT ACT all save lives - it doesn't make them right, though.