Binge drinking curbed in Alberta

Bars, nightclubs and other drinking establishments will undergo some changes when it comes to serving alcohol.
The new province-wide rules will not allow cheap drink specials, limit last-call drink orders and regulate the duration of happy hours.

By Eraina Hooyer

Staff Reporter

Bars, nightclubs and other drinking establishments will undergo some changes when it comes to serving alcohol.

The new province-wide rules will not allow cheap drink specials, limit last-call drink orders and regulate the duration of happy hours.

The changes to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission policies will be put into place on August 1 and are intended to improve safety for both staff and customers in provincial drinking establishments.

“There has been increasing awareness that violence is becoming a bigger problem and that drunkenness creates community disruption, vandalism and fighting,” said Wes Bellmore, communications officer for the AGLC. “Stakeholders came together to discuss ways of reducing this and this is one of the solutions that came out of the discussion.”

The new changes set minimum drink prices for spirits and liqueurs at $2.75 per ounze, wine at 35 cents an ounze, 16 cents per ounze for draught beer and beer, cider or coolers will be set at $2.75 per 12 ounze bottle or can.

At no time can drinks be sold for less than the new minimum price and establishments can not sell drinks for less than the regular menu price after 8 p.m.

The maximum drink order for customers is also being altered. Two standard servings per order is the maximum number and size of drinks that can be served to an individual after 1 a.m. An individual can also not have more than two drinks in their possession after 1 a.m.

“It’ll only change the bar scene in places that currently have promotions for cheap drinks,” said Bellmore. “It will help reduce heavy binge drinking. What we hope to see is less intoxications and more responsible service.”

Currently the AGLC is working on a training program to be put into place for the end of 2009. ProTect Security Staff Training will be instructing staff working in drinking establishments in ways to help prevent and manage disturbances before violence takes place.

Staff will learn how to control customer disturbances, how to stay in control of a negative situation, what actions to take to calm disputes, dealing with extreme situations and the importance of keeping a calm demeanor.

“At this point staff have to rely on their own judgment and thinking,” said Bellmore. “Now it won’t have to be their discretion, it’s the law. We have been getting good feedback about this, it’s very significant.”

The new changes will begin on August 1.

For more information on the amendments visit www.aglc.gov.ab.ca.