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Early liquor service a success

Bars, RCMP report no problem with early drinks

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Monday, Feb 24, 2014 06:00 am

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On Twitter

Thomas Lukaszuk @LukaszukMLA – Feb 23
Would you agree that this weekend's change in alcohol sale regulations is evidence that we should be less restrictive all the time? #ableg
Jonathan Denis MLA @MinisterJono – Feb 23
Yes! @LukaszukMLA Would u agree that this wknd's change in alcohol regs is evidence that we should be less restrictive all the time? #ableg
Andy Hayher @ahayher – Feb 23
@MinisterJono@LukaszukMLA Australia and some EU member nations are far less restrictive and seem to be doing fine! #personalresponsibility
Jonathan Denis MLA @ MinisterJono – Feb 23
@ahayher @LukaszukMLA One thing I think we should examine are later hours - that way cabs can keep up and ensure more people get home safe

A 5 a.m. pint did not deter St. Albertans from their good behaviour Sunday, as they started their day early watching the men’s Olympic hockey gold medal game at local bars.

The St. Albert detachment of the RCMP recorded no calls between 5 a.m. and shortly after 7 a.m., the end of the game. Afterwards, RCMP Cst. Yelena Avoine said there were only the regular calls – a false alarm going off – but nothing specific to the sports event.

“People were busy watching the game,” she said. “I think everybody was in pretty good spirits and that was showing.”

The RCMP allocated no extra staff to watching over visitors at local bars, she added.

On Friday, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission had announced that licensed establishments in Alberta were authorized to serve drinks starting at 5 a.m. for this day only, without having to make a special application.

Premises were expected to offer the service in a socially-responsible way to ensure the safety of patrons, stated a commission press release.

Calls for relaxed liquor laws

Following Team Canada’s 3-0 victory, Alberta Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk and Justice Minister Jonathan Denis exchanged Twitter messages contemplating whether the province should be more open to less restrictive liquor regulations.

Then, Monday, Finance Minister Doug Horner, who has responsibility for the commission, issued a statement on the early liquor service and suggestions to amend liquor laws.

Horner said it had been important to give Albertans a chance to watch Sunday’s game together and allowing premises to serve liquor starting at 5 a.m. was a first in the province.

The commission is now going to take the time to talk to its partners to see how the event went, and to use the feedback to make decisions on similar future requests, he said.

“I had already committed to working with the AGLC and my caucus colleagues to review the Gaming and Liquor Act in the next year,” he said.

“Certainly the discussions that have taken place over social media over the past weekend will be taken into consideration as we develop our public consultation.”

A spokesperson for the minister told the Gazette they could not comment on what kind of changes may be considered. The commission said Tuesday it was too early to discuss any potential changes to the Gaming and Liquor Act.

David Bowie, manager at the Celtic Knot, said customers responded well to being able to watch the game at the local pub. Everything was peaceful while the game was on, he said.

“Maybe a slight issue with one person but aside from one thing everything was really smooth considering what time it was and a lot of people had already gone out that night,” he said.

He now hopes the commission will allow bars to open early for other major sports events in the future, he said.


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