Sound security system for 2000
RCMP numbers almost double
By Paul Andrew
Add another 100 or so visitors to Whistler during the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Staff Sgt. Frank Shedden of the Whistler RCMP confirmed last week that during the First Night 2000 celebrations in Whistler Village, a minimum of 55 additional Mounties will be on hand to ensure a peaceful party. This is in addition to Whistler’s year-round staff of 15 officers.
Last year a total of 42 RCMP were in and around the village for First Night. This year there will be at least 70.
Not only will Whistler almost double its police presence, but the gate security and village patrol will be beefed up by 48 "specially trained" private security guards — the kind that you might run into at a rock concert, Shedden said.
Some 60 community volunteers will round out the peace keeping forces for what many are predicting to be Whistler’s biggest party night since the town was incorporated almost 25 years ago.
"There are changes and there are similarities," Shedden said. "First of all, the similarities are, we will set up a roadblock on Highway 99, south of the village and we’ll be stopping people who are coming into Whistler who do not have accommodation, just like we always have. (First Night) all started as a family event years ago and people tend to think it’s a ‘come and get wasted’ thing. But the village is a non-alcohol zone, and we will confiscate any liquor being carried into the village. We won’t ask questions or negotiate — it’s gone," Shedden said.
Subtle changes such as a no backpack rule will be printed on the $15 First Night ticket. "All bags will be checked" the ticket will say, and that’s new for this year’s First Night.
"Plus we’ve opened up Lot A as a staging area for the First Night celebrations, and that’s new," Shedden said. "The breezeway between Mogul’s Coffee and Armchair Book store will be an exit only. People coming in from the skier lots will use the entrance to the village beside the Savage Beagle. And the taxi loop is going to be the bus loop. So what we’ll do is ask folks to enter that side of the village through Lot A. You can stay and party there or continue around the Tapley’s corner there and into the village."
Bylaw officers will also play a part in the festivities. One bylaw officer, one RCMP officer, one security guard and one volunteer gateworker will staff each of the half-dozen or so external and internal gates.
"Internal gateing system between Lot A and the Village Square stage will help contain crowds in a more patrollable area," says the First Night 2000 information sheet. "Internal gates will become exits only when a particular staging area reaches capacity."
Shedden said the 100 vollies used last year to monitor the bus system and the village won’t be needed this year because of all the private security. He said the bulk of the Whistler RCMP will work familiar beats in the valley, letting out-of-town officers work the village and patrol outside the village security fences.
"There’s a potential 20,000 people coming into the village and everybody has a right to have a peaceful celebration," Shedden added. "So that means you can come in and have a good time dancing near one of the stages or walking about the village. But if you start getting to out of hand, you’ll get a few raised eyebrows from the RCMP."