City council is not supporting a request by the Salmon Arm Downtown Improvement Association that would allow Alexander Plaza vendors to serve alcohol to market patrons. (File photo)

Salmon Arm council says no to alcohol service at Alexander Plaza

Mayor, councillors open to consideration when downtown market pilot project assessed

Salmon Arm council is just saying no to open liquor consumption during Saturday’s Alexander Plaza, at least for 2020.

At its Monday, July 27 meeting, they city’s mayor and council received a letter from Salmon Arm Downtown Improvement Association manager Lindsay Wong, on behalf of the association’s board, seeking support for bylaw changes to allow the drinking of beer, wine or other alcoholic beverages sold by vendors in the Saturday market.

“We are fortunate to have a variety of locally owned breweries, distilleries and wineries,” wrote Wong, explaining with current regulations, local producers are only allowed to provide samples of their product.

“This opportunity would provide the public with an option to purchase a locally crafted beverage to enjoy on Alexander Plaza.”

Wong explained the BC Liquor and Licensing Act allows cities to pass a bylaw permitting liquor consumption in city owned public spaces. It also allows for the designation of specific hours in which the privilege would be in effect.

Coun. Kevin Flynn, they city’s representative on the Downtown Salmon Arm board, offered a measured introduction to the the letter/request, stating that while he thought it could be a good thing, he had concerns regarding enforcement, both by the city’s bylaw officer who doesn’t work Saturdays, and the RCMP.

Read more: Downtown Salmon Arm asks city to allow alcohol consumption during Alexander Plaza

Read more: Turning Salmon Arm’s Alexander Street into a plaza will be delayed

Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond said there are businesses in the downtown core that have taken the steps, and have paid the related costs, to sell/serve alcoholic beverages.

“I just don’t think it’s the business of the city to A) maybe cut down on their business on Saturdays, and B) to pick and choose which business would like to come and sell their wares when it comes to alcohol,” said Wallace-Richmond, who preferred that a business or non-profit establish a pilot beverage garden in part of the area following the existing application process.

Mayor Alan Harrison said he would be OK with the request if there was some way of allowing only local producers to participate.

“But unfortunately that’s not the way liquor licensing works,” said Harrison. Echoing Coun. Tim Lavery, Harrison said Alexander Plaza itself is a pilot project, after which there will be extensive review and feedback. He suggested open drinking in the downtown could be looked at for next year.

“I would certainly think about that and that would give us enough lead time to do it well,” said Harrison.

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