Province to limit cheap drinks | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 24 May 2024 12pm

Province to limit cheap drinks

Government sets minimum drink prices to make bars safer


The practice of cutting drink prices may soon be a thing of the past in Alberta as the government introduces minimum drink prices.

Starting on August 1, an ounce of liquor at a bar in Alberta will cost a minimum of $2.75, the same minimum price for a 12 ounce bottle of beer, cider or cooler. Wine will cost 35 cents per ounce, and a draught beer will be 16 cents per ounce. According to a release, the goal of the new regulation is to make drinking establishments safer.

“These changes reflect this government’s intention to improve safety in and around licensed premises,” said Fred Lindsay, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security. “They are not meant to interfere with responsible patrons - they are designed to limit the liquor consumption of those drinkers who don’t wish to set their own limits.”

According to Peter Pappas, owner of the Octane Nightclub in Drumheller, he has no problem with the regulations. He is suspect however, of the claim the regulations will actually make places safer.

“For certain people it might make a difference,” he said.

He explained the nightclub brought back their $1 highball drink specials on Thursday nights about four months ago, and he hasn’t seen any increase in problems.

He adds that some say people will drink at home where it is cheaper, and then come out to the bar intoxicated. He foresees that not happening.

“If they come in intoxicated, they are not going to get served, “ he said. “By the liquor laws, we are not allowed to serve you if you are intoxicated, and if we know you are drunk, we just won’t serve you. If everyone follows those rules the liquor board gives you, people will still come out to the bars.”

He says overall the changes in the rules are a good change. While the drink specials may not attract as big of a crowd, it will put all bars on a even playing field.

Jason Ewing of Red’s Place agrees the change will not make much of a difference. Under the new law, a 5-ounce glass of wine will cost $1.75, while a 20-ounce pint of draught comes in at $3.20. His major concern is this is just one more regulation facing small business owners.

“We’re supposed to be a private business,” he said. “First its was the smoking laws, and now they are telling us what we can and can’t do for selling, Where does it stop before they stop regulating everything?”

He agrees that if bars and servers are following the rules, most problems of over consumption, which can lead to sickness or violence, can be curbed. Business wise, he doesn’t see it making much difference.

“I don’t think it is going to affect us by any means, I mean the prices are still pretty cheap,” he said.

The new regulations limit “Happy Hour" sales. After 8 p.m., drinks cannot be sold for less than the regular menu prices. The regulation also limits drink orders. After 1 a.m., patrons will be limited to purchasing two standard servings per order, and they can no longer have more than two drinks in their possession.

“Most of us would never guzzle a tray full of cheap highballs just before closing time, but many of us have shared a sidewalk with someone who has. These new changes should make closing times outside bars a lot more peaceful,” says Mike Shymka, vice-president of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association.

Jamie Worman, manager of Boston Pizza says they do include drink specials as a part of their marketing plan, but feels the new regulation won’t limit the business.

“We like to put on specials to entice customers to comeback, but I strongly feel the reason people come to certain places and become repeat customers is the service,” he said. “ I don’t think the drinks will really have that much of an impact as people are thinking. Service is what sells, in my eyes.”

Pappas says while it might make a bit of a difference in overall numbers in the beginning, people will continue to socialize at bars and nightclubs.

“It’s like the smoking thing, everybody got used to it …and people still came out,” he said.

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