On May 28, with a vote of 4-3, the Town of Ponoka enacted bylaw 313-12 that states all liquor stores and off sale counters must now close at 10 p.m. The only exception to this law is during Stampede Week. The reason for this law or should I say, the reason our town council finally settled on, was for the safety of our citizens.
When a bylaw is enacted it becomes law immediately. For some unknown reason the town has decided not to enforce this bylaw until after the Ponoka Stampede. If it is really for safety, why is there a delay in enforcement? Labour standards do not come into play as the town administrator states.
Obviously it really has nothing to do with our safety, if it really did, then May 29 would have seen the town bylaw enforcement officer and the RCMP checking everyone to make sure the bylaw was being followed. Instead we have our town administrator saying: “So it doesn’t mess with people and the Alberta Labour standards.”
Look at it this way. If this safety bylaw were enforced, up to June 24 alcohol would be available for off sales until only 10 p.m.; then for one week it’s available to 2:50 a.m. and again on July 2 it is back to forcing all liquor outlets to close again at 10 p.m. What town council is saying is we do not want to upset the Stampede applecart, so we are willing forgo safety, at the expense of our citizens. Why, because it is one of the few economic engines this town has. The town must believe limiting liquor sales during Stampede would be bad for business, yet for many small businesses that keep the engine running for the entire year, this isn’t the case. The last I looked, the name on the sign said Ponoka, not Nirvana
Too many years and too many bad decisions for reasons we are not privy to, have made this town what it is today. The empty storefronts, all the houses on the market that have the reduced banner across the real estate agents’ signs. It is time for us, all of us who call Ponoka home, to take notice of what we have allowed to happen. We can’t lay blame squarely on the town fathers; we have to take some of that responsibility for where we are. Each and every one of us has an investment in Ponoka whether it be physical, financial or emotional. It is time for us to stand up for what we believe is right. Open a dialogue with town leaders. People complain, but don’t speak up. It is election time in a few short months. Make your voice heard. Get involved and make your vote count. It is time to turn the tide and take our community in a new direction.