Several establishments in Sudbury, Ontario. are increasing safety for guests after a woman spiked her drink earlier this month.
Cassandra Trudel had been to Boulevard Nightclub with a friend on June 11th. She had been drinking the same drink for an hour when she put it down and was briefly distracted. After taking a few more sips, she developed an allergic reaction to something she believes was added to her drink.
The co-owner of Boulevard nightclub on Durham Street says she only found out about the incident after Trudel posted it on social media to warn others.
In an email to CBC News, Megan Matchem said the company is now planning to put cameras inside and she has ordered special lids to fit drinks.
Staff are also specially trained to recognize signs of human trafficking. Trudel believes the two women who were near her when her drink was spiked may have been part of a human trafficking scheme.
This training is from Know Human Trafficking, an agency that educates people on how to help those who are at risk.
“They have provided us with tools to train our staff to recognize and look for suspicious behavior,” Matchem said in their email.
“We need to know what we’re looking for in order to stop it.”
“Safety First” at The Grand
About a block away at the Grand Nightclub, owner Samantha Bourre had already begun making plans to bring the lids for drinks when she heard about the incident.
“They come in a little scrunchie, you can open it, put it over your drink, there’s a little hole for your straw,” she said.
“We’re looking to put a vending machine in from these, they just aren’t ready in Canada yet.” Bourre also ordered a disposable version that uses a paper sticker for the top of the jar.
Those covers are expected to be in the bar until September, when Bourre said business is picking up again with post-secondary students returning to Sudbury.
Bourre, who has owned The Grand since October 2021, said her staff had already received extensive training from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
“As a former waitress, I know that my employees always make sure that the person ordering a drink is watching so they can see you make it,” she said.
She adds that on a busy night, she has more staff, so it’s not difficult for the bar’s security, bartenders, and servers to watch out for suspicious behavior.
“You want your bartender to watch over you,” Bourre said, adding that she would rather her staff take their time and be vigilant than rush an order or not pay attention and cause an incident.
“We want you to come back. We just want everyone to make sure and come back next weekend,” she added.
Laurentian planning fun, safe Frosh Week 2022
Safety is also a top priority at Laurentian University in Sudbury.
“One of my priorities this year is bringing back a sense of community and togetherness to our Laurentian campus, and how do we do that in a fun, but also safe way,” said Olivia Broomer, vice president of Student Life with the Students’ General Association (SGA) at Laurentian University.
SGA has already started planning their Frosh Week for this fall, taking place September 3-12.
Broomer said nightcap covers will be included in each student’s welcome pack.
“We’re including these in our Frosh kits this year so the students can take them downtown, they can take them to the Laurentian Pub and just have that quiet while they socialize and have fun,” she said.
Broomer said the lids were actually ordered before news of Trudel’s drink broke.
“I don’t want people to be nervous about going out. I want people to be able to build their community and connect without that fear.”
“It was one of the first things on our list.”
Broomer also said the SGA is planning a pink vest program where individuals will wear neon pink vests during on-campus activities.
“They will be student leaders trained in mental health, first aid, support and suicide prevention, and they will be present at every student event.”
There will also be training opportunities for staff at Laurentian’s licensed undergraduate facility called The Pub Downunder.
“At this year’s SGA, we value a safe environment and we want to make Laurentian both safe and fun, and it can’t be fun if it’s not safe,” Broomer said.
“We take care of our students.”
Sudbury’s other two post-secondary schools – Cambrian College and College Boreal – both say their respective pubs have been closed due to COVID in the last two years. But they hope to reopen this fall.
A spokesman for Cambrian said the school’s Student Life Center has security cameras to monitor the space. They also have 24 hour security on site at the college that will respond immediately if there is an incident.
Center staff receive Smart Serve training and also monitor for suspicious behavior. There is also refresher training for Student Life Center and security staff prior to the start of each new academic year.