Imposing minimum prices on drinks during happy hour could curb binge drinking and the problems that go with it, says Premier Ed Stelmach.
During a news conference yesterday, Stelmach said a weekend assault on two police officers by a group of young people who were drinking at a bar on Jasper Avenue has highlighted the need for limits on nightclubs and bars.
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With low prices at bars, Stelmach believes customers drink more, which leads to binging and acting badly.
“(Binge drinking) is becoming a serious matter because when police officers are actually swarmed on the street, it is like the Old West and we’ve got to get control of it,” said Stelmach.
“This is not the kind of message we want to send to others in terms of safe communities in Edmonton.”
Solicitor General Fred Lindsay says he will be making an announcement on the minimum-price plan in the legislature soon and his government will be talking with nightclub owners about the new plan
Lindsay will look into shorter happy hours and limits on how many drinks can be on a bar table after last call.
The move comes after the province already brought in a new training program earlier this year for bar and nightclub security staff to help them curb violence and increase safety.
Kim Haakstad, an executive director with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees in British Columbia, says bars in that province are not allowed to offer happy hour, and can only serve patrons a certain amount of alcohol per drink.
Bar patrons are allowed up to three shots of alcohol in one drink, compared to Alberta where “quadruple shots are quite common,” said Haakstad.
“This is just something we have sort of expected here,” says Haakstad.
“I am sure many businesses would love to offer happy hour, but they are just simply not allowed.”
Stelmach also said drugs are also becoming a bigger dilemma for a booming province. People with “more money in their pockets” are turning to drugs, he added.