Focus for dealing with gangs shifts to businesses

The bullet riddled SUV that acted as a macabre reminder of Sunday’s gangland slaying was finally towed from the crime scene late Tuesday, but questions about how the community can keep similar activities at bay still linger.

The bullet riddled SUV that acted as a macabre reminder of Sunday’s gangland slaying was finally towed from the crime scene late Tuesday, but questions about how the community can keep similar activities at bay still linger.

“I’ve been asked about whether we can have a (city-wide) ban on clothing associated with gangs,” said Kelowna Mayor Sharon Shepherd, offering up one of the ideas thrown her way.

“Maybe it’s a possibility that we could enforce it, but maybe it couldn’t be done in the next door neighbour community.”

On a business-to-business level, that kind of colour ban was already encouraged by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce in 2009, but the chamber’s current CEO, Caroline Grover, said it’s far from a mandate.

Also, its effectiveness is hard to judge.

The Delta Grand Hotel has a colour ban policy in place and yet that didn’t stop the most violent gang outburst this city has seen from happening on The Delta’s front steps.

“Obviously we’re working with the local RCMP to see if there’s more we can do, but we’ve already taken a zero tolerance perspective on allowing gang colours in the hotel,” said Daniel Bibby, general manager of the hotel.

“It helps, but all it does is ensure that anybody on the resort, who’s identifying themselves as part of a gang, removes the clothing for the sake of other visitors.”

At best, it’s an uneven approach, and Mayor Shepherd said that a concerted education campaign may be a better way forward.

“There are things businesses can do,” she said. “(For example) if people are buying big merchandise items with cash, then maybe businesses shouldn’t take that money.”

Shepherd recently identified her desire to see a gang-business registry be published so area residents can make informed choices. It’s been done in the past by the RCMP, but that’s a complicated issue which requires a lot of effort.

Above all else, however, she’d like to see community members meet to discuss how to nip gang activities in the bud so younger generations don’t see cause to take the Bacon brothers’ path.

 

Kelowna Capital News