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(File Photo)

The West Shore RCMP is in the planning stages of rolling out an anti-gang program to help protect local businesses and restaurants.

The new campaign, called the RCMP Inadmissible Patrons Program (IPP), is described as a "public safety partnership" by police that is already in place in other Canadian communities.

The IPP is designed to discourage violent acts from occurring in public areas by banning people with ties to organized crime, or who have histories of violent criminal activity, from entering establishments. 

The West Shore RCMP say that the new program is being considered due to a rise in motorcycle gang activity in the area, including a number of shootings.

In April 2019, the West Shore community saw two non-fatal shootings. Police say that in both cases the suspects and intended targets had connections to organized crime, and that the shootings endangered the community at large. 

"The continued growth of the Savages Outlaw Motorcycle Gang in the West Shore along with the growth of other Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs such as the Nanaimo Hells Angels may drive an increased presence of individuals connected to the drug trade and organized crime to the West Shore area," reads an RCMP summary of the IPP.

"The West Shore RCMP have received complaints about individuals wearing gang colours at establishments in the West Shore area," reads the summary. "Individuals who maintain this high-risk lifestyle bring a public safety risk to those around them."

Mounties say that people who enter businesses and restaurants that display an IPP sign will not be ejected from the premises until their status an "inadmissible patron" is confirmed. If someone is determined to be an inadmissible patron, the police can then act under the B.C. Trespass Act. 

The criteria for whether or not a person is an inadmissible patron is:

  • Organized Crime and Gang members
  • Associates of Organized Crime and or Gangs
  • Individuals with a history of serious and or violent criminal activity
  • Individuals with a history of firearms offenses
  • Individuals with involvement in the drug trade

Julie Lawlor, executive director of the West Shore Chamber of Commerce, says that the IPP is still in its early stages and that an engagement period with local businesses is being planned. 

The chamber and local RCMP are currently working to schedule a public information period with the 370 businesses that are part of the region.

"We're really interested on hearing from businesses in our community in terms of their interest in the information session, and when," said Lawlor.

"I'll be very interested to see how many people will take it up, but clearly the fact that it's got the support of local municipalities is as clear indication that it's the right thing to do."