Although all the details on how a new liquor and cannabis bylaw will be enforced in La Ronge isn’t entirely clear, discussion are well underway on how the process could look like.
“On some ends, the RCMP will take a role in some enforcement of liquor hours,” said Counc. Matt Klassen. “The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority is going to fall under those guidelines as well. We’ll also utilize bylaw officers, but our province has committed and they have a team specially designed for liquor enforcement.”
As written in the bylaw, which passed first reading Dec. 1, council may revoke a business license when a person contravenes any provision for a third time within 18 months of a second offence. When a provision is violated for the first and second time, under the general Business Bylaw a fine no more than $2,000 can be issued to an individual or up to $5,000 if its a corporation. According to SLGA Communication Manager David Morris, establishments that do not follow operating hours set out by a municipality could also be sanctioned for not meeting municipal requirements, which is a condition of a liquor permit.
He stated, however, a council resolution that reduces the operating hours of liquor-permitted businesses can only be passed as long as the restrictions does not prevent the overall operation of a legal business. If the bylaw is passed, Morris added SLGA will continue to work with La Ronge Council to ensure liquor establishments are following the rules related to their permits, as well as hours set by the town.
“SLGA continues to work with the community of La Ronge on issues related to the responsible use of beverage alcohol, and other issues related to public safety and alcohol,” he stated. “Town Council’s decision to reduce the hours of operation for liquor permitted establishments was made in support of their community alcohol strategy and SLGA respects the decision.”
The La Ronge RCMP are also working out how exactly they will assist the municipality with bylaw enforcement. The detachment currently doesn’t enforce the town’s curfew bylaw, but Sgt. Josh Hallett noted it’s still to be determined what their participation will look like in the future. He said discussions between council, the SLGA and the RCMP are ongoing.
Hallett also doesn’t foresee any issues arising due to the alcohol bylaw like bootlegging. He doesn’t think that will begin to occur because community members will still have access to alcohol throughout the week. It’s not very often RCMP encounter bootlegging in any communities near La Ronge, Hallett noted.
“Bootlegging is more of a problem in northern dry communities,” he said. “We do occasionally see alcohol seized in La Ronge for illegal possession, but it can not be said that the possession is always connected to bootlegging.”
While he couldn’t speculate if the reduced access to alcohol will lead to a drop in crime, Hallett stated it will be an area of interest the detachment will be following.
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