The city will be developing a plan that could see an association of Edmonton bar and pub owners govern themselves despite strong opposition from Mayor Stephen Mandel and the hotel industry.

The city’s transportation committee told administration to come up with a plan that could see a new group set standards for licensed drinking establishments in Edmonton — a move that’s being lauded as a way to clean up the industry’s image.

The new association would set new rules and programs for drinking establishments that could address nightclub security and training employees, says city administration.

Administration told council that the plan could also include forcing licensed businesses to pay $280 annually in surcharges. The move would create an annual fund of $250,000 for the new association that could be spent on staff and services, said administration.

But Mandel said bar owners should be the ones to create the group, not the city.

“We’re not doing it for the steel industry, we’re not doing it for the grocery store business, or the clothing business,” said Mandel during the meeting yesterday.

“It’s the responsibility for the business to do that — it is our responsibility to ensure our business licences and bylaws are enforced.”

Mandel, who called the plan ridiculous, said the move could hurt “ma and pa” establishments and it could create backlash from the industry.

“We understand it is going to start at $280, but what’s to stop it from becoming a sustainable stream of revenue for the city,” said Thomas Barknowitz, a general manager of Rosslyn Inn and Suites, during the meeting in city hall yesterday.

But bar owners and business association representatives urged the committee to follow up on the plan and Coun. Don Iveson said it’s a step in the right direction.

“What this can represent is industry leadership and a bottom-up approach, ultimately, as opposed to a top-down approach,” said Iveson.