A plan by the city to loosen up the rules that allow alcohol to be served and consumed during some street festivals doesn’t quite go far enough, the community and protective services committee heard on Nov. 17.
Jasna Jennings, executive director of the Byward Market Business Improvement Area, was one of a few delegations that called for the city to instate a Bourbon street model.
Jennings used the example of a patron guzzling their drink on a patio in order to hit the street to see a show.
“Let ‘s not perpetuate the notion that Ottawa is the city fun forgot,” she said.
She said this practice encourages binge drinking – rather than discourages it.
The proposal, brought on by changes to Ontario liquor laws, would include allowing bars and restaurants to expand their patios. Alcohol would be served within certain cordoned-off areas for special events.
Paramedic chief Anthony Di Monte said Ottawa police were not in favour of a Bourbon Street style, and cordoning off a specific area allowed more control.
The city’s alcohol permit policy hasn’t been updated in a dozen years.
Despite providing the site plan – which is illustrations of the different kinds of scenarios for alcohol permits – to business improvement areas a year ago, the report in its entirety wasn’t made available until Nov. 10.
College Coun. Rick Chiarelli said that didn’t seem enough time for the members to go over the proposal.
“We have known 2017 was coming for several years,” Chiarelli said of the push to have an updated policy in place before 2017 events start.
Steve Monuk, representing Ottawa Venues York Entertainment, said he’s all for the part of the proposal that gives delegated authority to staff to grant the applications.
Under the current process, he has to submit his Canada Day application in April and doesn’t hear back until June 27.
Committee chair Coun. Diane Deans, was among the committee members that identified some problems with the public consultation and the language around the four site scenarios included in the report.
“I understand there’s some urgency in passing this policy in advance of 2017, but there are some loose ends here,” she said.
Di Monte said committee was hearing divergent opinions and that there’s no way to please everyone.
“We would like to move forward with policy or it will be a Hodge podge for staff in 2017,” he said.
Deans said there does seem to be some differences of opinion that likely won’t get resolved before the Nov. 23 council meeting.
“I guess we will all have to take a little water with our wine,” she said.
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said staff missed the boat and could’ve included the ability to name an area a temporary park – to put forward a Dragon’s Boat-type model.
“Certainly we are a fun city,” he said. “We do so safely.”
Board of Health chair Coun. Shad Qadri said he wants to see a recent report on changing the culture to one of moderation when it comes to alcohol included in the policy.
The committee chose to send the report to council without a recommendation in the hopes that some of the more contentious issues could be ironed out beforehand.