Council sends request to reduce alcohol sale hours to city solicitor for more information

An discarded empty bottle of liquor sits in downtown Prince Albert. -- Herald file photo.

A group of Prince Albert advocates have asked City Council to consider reducing the hours of daily liquor sales to 12; an attempt at managing the issue of excessive drinking in the city.

Brian Howell gave a presentation at Monday’s Council meeting on behalf of the Prince Albert and Area Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee, where he explained that limiting the hours of when liquor can be sold is about promoting safe consumption.

“People are never going to stop drinking all together, but we think some measure of control would be helpful,” said Howell in an interview with the Herald. “We’re not really trying to do away with drinking in Prince Albert, we’re just trying to find some common sense approaches to reduce it and slow down some of the excesses that we see out there.”

Howell’s work with River Bank Development allows him to see the impacts of excessive alcohol consumption firsthand.

Alcohol hours ‘having a real impact on the community’ says Howell

“We think this has a real impact on the community,” said Howell. “For the neighbours of the people who tend to be partying all night, parties do disturb others.”

The effects of excessive drinking in relation to crime puts a strain on the City’s police service too, said Howell.

“I am concerned that as the part continues from the first day to second day, people get a bit carried away,” said Howell. “That’s where you see the fights and arguments that would lead to deaths. We’ve had a couple of incidents in Prince Albert where young babies have been killed by their parents who were drinking at the time.”

Howell said the issue is that alcohol is much more available today than it was 20 years ago.

The Prince Albert and Area Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee don’t have definite hours in mind for liquor stores to be open if the motion is approved, but Howell thinks 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. would be appropriate.

Council asked City Solicitor, Mitchell Holash, to explore what options are available for the City to pursue before they settle on a final decision. Mayor Greg Dionne and some of City Management will also be meeting with provincial representatives on Wednesday to discuss the City’s regulatory powers.