Booze licence for RCMP headquarters sits with Victoria

Surrey council passed the issue on to the liquor control branch

An application for a liquor license at RCMP headquarters now sits with Victoria.

An application for a liquor license at RCMP headquarters now sits with Victoria.

An application for a liquor licence at the new B.C. RCMP headquarters in Green Timbers is now being considered by Victoria after Surrey council passed it on without making recommendations.

In June, the RCMP asked for Surrey council’s blessing for a liquor licence for a mess hall at a new $263-million headquarters now under construction in Green Timbers Urban Forest.

The licence was for a 500-seat mess hall that would seat up to 1,200 people.

Many members of the public were outraged that the RCMP wanted a bar on the premises, even though mess halls have been a long-standing tradition with the Mounties.

Surrey council wasn’t enthused with approving the proposal. Instead, in June, council forwarded the application to the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (BCLCLB) without offering any comment on the application.

Coun. Marvin Hunt said at the time he was amazed to see the application on the city’s agenda.

“I’ve never heard before of the federal government ever asking the local government’s permission to get a provincial government licence,” Hunt said. “The reality is, they can do whatever they want because they’re the federal government.”

That’s not the case with Victoria. The Mounties will need clearance from the BCLCLB before opening a beer in that building.

The approval process can take between seven months to a year, meaning Mounties may not have an answer on their  application until June of 2013. With an election in May, the decision might be up to the next provincial government.

Mounties say the liquor licence would be used for other purposes than just a mess hall for officers.

RCMP say it would be also used for regimental dinners and veterans’ celebrations.

A bar currently exists at B.C. RCMP headquarters in Vancouver (which is moving to Green Timbers).

The mess hall in Vancouver is open from about 3:30 p.m. to about 8 p.m.

If someone has too much to drink, Mounties are allowed to take a cab home free-of-charge, a service paid for out of RCMP dues.