June 24th, 2024

Dry Raymond ponders move to ‘damp’ liquor sales

By Lethbridge Herald on March 5, 2022.

Herald photo by Delon Shurtz The Town of Raymond is looking for feedback on whether citizens are willing to have licensed restaurants in the community.

Al Beeber – Lethbridge Herald

The Town of Raymond wants to know if citizens are willing to have licensed restaurants in the community.

No alcohol sales have been allowed in the town for more than 100 years but that could change depending on public response to a seven-week consultation project on an online platform called “Let’s Talk Raymond.”

While special events licences are frequently obtained to permit the sale and consumption of alcohol at private residences, the Town has so far maintained a ban on general sales to the public.

Residents are being asked if they oppose or support the town offering “Class A-Minors Allowed” liquor licences for the sale and consumption of alcohol on licensed premises that serve the public where food is the primary source of business.

Businesses applying for such a licence have to be situated in a permanent facility and have the equipment to support the primarily focus of selling food which must be available during all hours of liquor service.

This type of licence also allows for off-premises consumption with alcohol sold being in sealed commercial containers. Licencees may also deliver alcohol to locations where consumption is legal if the delivery person is at least 18, and either the licencee or a staff member checks the photo ID of buyers who may be under the age of 25.

Greg Robinson, the town’s director of Community and Corporate Development, said Thursday the consultation process closes April 7 and results will be presented to council at its April 12 meeting.

The town is taking a proactive approach in addressing the issue of whether to allow alcohol sales in restaurants, he said.

Businesses have approached the Town about selling alcohol, so the process was started.

In addition to online consultations, two public events are scheduled March 9 and 23 at the Raymond Seniors Centre to discuss the matter. Residents can also express their opinions by emailing council at kurtispratt@raymond.ca – Pratt is the town’s CAO.

“We’ve had business owners and members of the public approach council about it,” said Robinson.

“Our business sector is small; it’s only about five per cent of our overall assessment and we’re trying to really find ways to help it grow. Whether this works or not, it’s not necessarily a ‘yes.’ We don’t know all the answers to the questions. We’ve been approached by restaurant owners about this question and we felt that very likely, we would be getting a formal application.

Because Raymond is a community without licence, a business could apply to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission and then the Town would go into a formal process which puts restrictions on timelines and response time, he said.

“We just felt, well, if the inevitability is coming let’s just be pro-active. And that way we can spend some time with this engagement process to really get a hand on the pulse here of what the community will support and feel,” added Robinson.

“It’s gone quite well so far. There’s not been a hue and cry, there’s a lot of public that have voiced their opposition and their support and a lot of between. It’s been a very respectful process,” said Robinson.

If council amends its land-use bylaw to permit restaurants to apply for Class A – Minors Allowed licences, completed applications will be referred by the town development officer to Raymond’s Municipal Planning Commission for a decision. The commission will be able to approve with or without conditions or reject a licence application depending upon the response of adjacent landowners and people likely to be affected by the licence.

The town’s website says pre-existing restrictive covenants combined with a provision in the land use bylaw that “explicitly prohibits all other uses of liquor in the Town, would continue to serve as powerful instruments to keep the Town a predominantly dry community.”

This means there would still be a complete prohibition on enterprises such as bars, nightclubs and microbreweries from setting up shop in Raymond. The bylaw would also prevent booze sales at the arena or Victoria Sports Park, essentially meaning the town would evolve from being dry to “damp” and more inclusive, says the Town website.

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