Victoria bars may have to provide sexual violence training under proposed plan
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Monday, June 24, 2019 5:31PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, June 24, 2019 6:03PM PDT
New bars and clubs in Victoria may be required to complete sexualized violence training if a motion is passed by city council this week, but reaction from local establishments, like the drinks they pour, is mixed.
Three councillors – Laurel Collins, Jeremy Loveday and Sarah Potts – are pitching the motion at Thursday's meeting.
If passed, new liquor licence applicants would also have to submit a sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention plan.
The idea is to make the bar scene in Victoria safer, said Collins.
"Especially when you add liquor to the mix, I think it has the potential to amplify these issues," she said. "Some people have experienced sexualized violence, others haven't. What we want to do is make sure that we're actually creating the policies that will create a safe nightlife."
The councillors say the motion would ensure staff of bars and nightclubs would have proper training in diffusing situations where sexual harassment might occur between patrons, patrons and staff, or even staff members themselves.
Reaction to the proposed motion has been mixed among bars.
Miranda Guzzo, a server at Garrick's Head Pub on Government Street, said she thinks training staff to spot and address sexual violence Is still needed in 2019.
"I think it's really important to be trained because sometimes you deal with customers or employees, and you either can be too harsh, or you're too nice and you let things go," she said, adding she hasn't heard of any such training in her 11 years of hospitality industry experience.
But mandatory training would be overkill because the problem isn't as bad as it seems, said Darcy's Pub bar manager Michael Page.
"I don't think it's necessary and I don't think it's overly relevant," said Page. "A bar is a workplace like any other and harassment doesn't happen as often as you think it does, and it happens the same in a pub or bar setting as it does in a Tim Hortons or a McDonalds."
He said he recognizes men don't endure as much sexual harassment as women, but at Darcy's, patrons tend to be respectful.
"It's not as big of a problem as people make it out to be," he said.
If the motion passes, council would also explore how existing establishments could also be brought into the program.
With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Jordan Cunningham