Categories: Our View

Raise a glass

It’s never a bad thing to give consumers more choice.

As of this past Tuesday, it’s now legal for Alberta craft beer and spirits makers to sell their wares at farmers’ markets across the province, including here in St. Albert though we likely won’t see any booze at our market until next year.

Agatha Grochowski, manager of the St. Albert Farmers’ Market, says potential vendors are already jumping at the opportunity.

“I actually have a message from a call that came in pretty much right after the press release, of someone wanting to join our market with their beer,” she says. “I’m expecting a lot of applications.”

It’s a no-brainer and it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for the government to loosen up the regulations. It makes sense for brewers, consumers and the markets themselves. Not only will this give farmers’ market customers the opportunity to buy liquor and beer, it also may help the market attract new constomers who are interested in local beer and spirits.

Earlier this summer, the government loosened up outdoor patio restrictions following years of lobbying from both consumers and the hospitality industry. No longer will outdoor patios need a permanent barrier to fence in customers on a patio. The move makes patios more cost-effective for businesses, which in turn will make them more available to customers.

There’s also been restrictions lifted around happy hour and brewers with a taproom license are now able to have entertainment. Slowly but surely, the province is relaxing its liquor laws, some of which have been around for decades.

Booze is big business and we’ve seen in the past that relaxing the rules can have economic benefits. The privatization of liquor stores led to an explosion of new businesses and gave consumers significantly more options. On the production side, the number of craft breweries in the province has tripled since the government cut the minimum production required to operate a brewery.

So far, modernization of our liquor laws has been overwhelmingly positive. But there is still work to be done. Albertans are still unable to purchase liquor at grocery stores or convenience stores. The practice is common in both the United States and Europe, why not here? There are still plenty of interprovincial trade barriers that should also be done away with, but those will require cooperation between provinces, something that’s always easier said than done.

Modernization of our provincial liquor laws is long overdue. Let’s treat adults like adults and allow consumers to make their own choices. History has shown that these types of changes can have economic benefits. We’ll raise a glass to that.

St. Albert Gazette: The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.