City of Prince Albert beginning consultation process to regulate liquor store hours

Prince Albert City Hall (Daily Herald File Photo)

Without notification, the Government of Saskatchewan made changes to the Alcohol Control Regulations Act in April. During the Executive Committee meeting on Monday City Council moved ahead with possible changes to hours of operation for liquor stores in Prince Albert.

Director of Planning and Development Services Craig Guidinger gave a verbal presentation updating Council that the new amendment would allow the city to have legal authority to regulate liquor store hours by bylaw.

“It seems there has been some movement, actually some significant movement in Section 49 of the SLGAs regulations, which very clearly and then I’m paraphrasing that essentially allows municipalities to manage hours of operation of liquor stores,” Guidinger said.

“So this is a very significant movement. This is something that you, as councillors in the rest of the province, have been asking for a number of years, ever since I’ve been with the city saying this is a significant step forward,” Guidinger said.

The report stated that the Administration consult with identified stakeholders who have an interest in the hours of sale for alcohol in Prince Albert, including retail liquor vendors and the Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee, in order to bring back a report to the Executive Committee identifying recommendations and options arising from the Government of Saskatchewan’s recent amendment to The Alcohol Control Regulations.

Guidinger explained to Council that Administration wanted to meet with stakeholders such as the Steering Committee and liquor retailers.

“We want to speak with them how this will impact their operations and we want to make sure we bring back a recommendation that is based on factual information on how our businesses will be impacted, how our residents will,” Guidinger said.

Guidinger explained that he hoped to bring another recommendation to Executive Committee with an expected short turnaround time.

During the questions portion of the presentation Ward 7 Counc. Dawn Kilmer asked if the Prince Albert Police Service would be one of the stakeholders who would be involved. Guidinger explained that the definition of stakeholder was fairly broad and the Police could fit the scope.

Ward 3 Counc. Tony Head was pleased to see the motion passed.

“I want to thank the work of Brian Howell and all the work of the Community Alcohol Steering Committee work that they’ve done advocating on behalf of safety of our residents and lobbying levels of government to ensure that this happens. But (I’m) glad to see that the law has changed to allow some flexibility for municipalities,” Head said.

The vote passed unanimously with Ward 1 Counc. Charlene Miller abstaining because she is on the Community Alcohol Steering Committee.

According to the report on April 26 the Government amended Section 49 of the Alcohol Control Regulations Act, with providing notice or advice to City officials to make the permitted hours of liquor sales “Subject to” a newly added subsection.

The new subsection reads.

“If a retail store or premises are located within a municipality or on a reserve, the municipality or the Indian band, as the case may be, may elect to adopt a bylaw to further restrict the hours that a retail store permittee or permittee may open the retail store or premises, as the case may be, and sell beverage alcohol.”

Therefore, effective April 26 the City of Prince Albert now has the statutory and legal authority to regulate and specify retail liquor sale hours by bylaw.

The City of Prince Albert has been advocating for these changes since 2019 and had a motion defeated at a SUMA convention related to that in 2020. Mayor Greg Dionne and members of Administration had met virtually with Minister Responsible for the SLGA Lori Carr in March and were told that no amendments were coming forward to the act.

Mayor Greg Dionne moved the recommendation and added a motion to have the planning department request a report from La Ronge on how their change in liquor hours has worked.