By Nikki Jamieson
Westwind Weekly News
The Town of Raymond is seeking feedback over allowing liquor to be served at certain restaurants in town.
The town will be collecting resident feedback as part of a seven-week long consultation project know as Licensed Restaurants. Town CAO Kurtis Pratt said that during the Fall 2021 election, a collective goal of town council was to increase the level of engagement with the community.
“Knowing that there will be those within the community that has strong feelings on either side of this issue, Council felt it would be a great opportunity to follow through on this election commitment, said Pratt. “Given our history, Council wanted to make sure that there was a robust engagement process that would allow residents the opportunity to participate. That way they would be in the best possible position to make the best decision for the community.”
The town is currently considering whether to amend the town’s Land Use Bylaw to allow full-service restaurants to apply for ‘Class A – Minors Allowed’ liquor licenses, which are for liquor licensed establishments where the primary service is food.
Currently, the only liquor licences in town that can be issued by the AGLC are Public Special Event Licenses and Private Special Event Licenses.
In 2020, the province had passed Bill 2, the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act, which contain five changes: it gave park owners the discretion to allow drinking or not minus the food requirement in defined areas; streamlined the first application process for municipalities or Metis Settlements when someone applies for a liquor license; allowed the ALGC to impose conditions on licensees even if they haven’t been reported for a violation; clarified that liquor can be used as a raffle prize; and removed the remaining areas of prohibition around Cardston County and parts of County of Warner Number 5.
Pratt said when Bill 2 was passed, Raymond became a “community without license”, and any interested party could apply to the AGLC for a license, after which the town would have 90 days to approve or deny the application. Council had discussed what licenses they would be inclined to permit and how they could control it through land-use regulations.
“In the end, Council determined that ‘Class A Minors Allowed’ licenses would both support a priority identified within their Economic Strategic Plan, which was to attract new and diverse restaurant options within the community, that would provide residents with additional options to dine locally, and also have the ability to purchase a drink with their meals. In order to help them make this decision, they wanted to gather an accurate representation of how residents felt about allowing licensed restaurants within Town, instead of going off past perceptions or anecdotes.”
Pratt noted that the community is proud of its history, and prohibition is a part of that history. He also noted there will be a lot of strong feelings on the topic.
Residents are being encouraged to participate in the discussion on the town’s engagement platform,
letstalk.raymond.ca, where they can post comments and questions, view background information and learn more about what is being considered and how, if approved, it would be regulated. A survey will become available later this month and be open from March 24-April 7, where residents can share their thoughts on the topic. Pratt said the town hopes to get at least 337 survey responses, which would “provide us with a 95 per cent level of confidence that the survey results accurately reflect the position of the community”.
Two Public Engagement Events will take place at the Raymond Seniors Centre on March 9 and March 23, at 7 p.m. Both events will be livestreamed on the town’s YouTube channel. Residents can submit written letters to the town office, and emails sent to council by emailing Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Based on the feedback received, council will then determine if additional engagement needs to take place or whether they can then make a decision on the issue.