Pubdate: Wed, 29 Sep 2004
Source: Whitehorse Star (CN YK)
Copyright: 2004 Whitehorse Star
Author: Sarah Elizabeth Brown


A downtown bar with a self-admitted image problem is setting up
surveillance cameras in and around the building to cut back on
property crime and drug dealing.

The 16 surveillance cameras and the other electronic equipment to run
the system are almost totally up and running, Jonas Smith, manager of
the Capital Hotel's bar on Main Street, said in an interview Tuesday.

"It's something we've talked about off and on for well over a year,"
Smith said.

With ongoing property crime in the area, and drugs in the downtown
core becoming a more talked-about issue as of late, the management
decided it was time to put talk into action.

Sound and music equipment has been stolen from the bar's stage and
from bands. Vehicles in the back parking lot the hotel shares with Tim
Hortons and Thomas Cook Travel have been broken into and there are
sometimes discrepancies in the night deposit, said Smith, adding his
own car has been broken into several times.

And then there is "the so-called drug problem."

"We've got ourselves quite a bad reputation," said Smith, noting some
is deserved, and some is not.

Drug dealing comes part and parcel with the sale of alcohol, he said.
Alcohol is considered better because it's legal while drugs aren't.
"But for users, it's six of one and half a dozen of the other," Smith

It's not a stretch for people who use one "mind-numbing intoxicant" to
use another, less legal, type, he added.

"There are drugs consumed and sold in every bar in the country," Smith
said. "The Capital is no different from any bar in town."

The Capital bar manager said he's seen people on drugs in other
Whitehorse bars.

"Yet it comes down to the Capital has the image," and it's easy to
point fingers and blame one place or one person for the local drug

"We are hoping the camera does help the image."

In the spring of 2003, a Capital Hotel bartender was arrested and
charged with selling nearly a half-kilogram of cocaine to undercover

Also charged at that time were three other co-accused, including one
young man who told the plainclothes cops he sold cocaine out of local
bars, including the Capital. At the same time, three individuals were
handed trafficking charges for selling to undercover police at the 202
Motor Inn's bar.

The busts were part of a Yukon RCMP project to target dealers selling
out of local bars, the courts heard at the time.

This summer, complaints from downtown residents to the area's MLA
resulted in a pair of public forums to air grievances about drug
trafficking, drug houses, used needles and property crime stemming
from drug use.

A community association is currently being formed by downtown
residents interested in tackling the narcotics situation.

So far, Smith has heard of only a couple of people who say they won't
be back because they don't like the idea of being watched by "Big
Brother." But the rest of the feedback has been positive, he said.

"We're a really friendly place full of regular customers," the bar
manager said. "They feel safer now" with cameras in place.

"We are kind of a rough and tumble frontier saloon," he said, adding
that cameras "deter anyone from misbehaving too much. We like to have
fun, but there's a line."

The $7,000-cost for the security system is quite a substantial
investment compared to a sound system or new wide screen TV for the
bar, said Smith.
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