A bylaw amendment to extend the hours of operation for liquor retailers in La Ronge failed to pass a third reading at a town council meeting this week.
Bylaw 599/18 was originally introduced in December 2018 as part of a community alcohol management strategy, which had the main focus to restrict the hours of operation for commercial operations involving cannabis and liquor.
Once passed, the bylaw would see the hours of operation changed to operate from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Sundays and statutory holidays. On May 9 of this year, town council gave the first two readings to the new Sale, Distribution, and Consumption of Beverage Alcohol and Cannabis Bylaw 676/23, which would replace and repeal Bylaw 599/18 to extend retailers hours of operation to 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
At the Town of La Ronge’s most recent meeting and third reading of the new amendment, Deputy-Mayor Abby Besharah as well as councillors Jordan McPhail, Viviana Ruiz Arcand, and Ryan Veteri opposed the amendment, while Mayor Joe Hordyski as well as councillors Terry Hunt and Matt Klassen voted in favour of the amendment.
Before the town’s meeting on May 23, they had received letters from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, and the Prince Albert Grand Council voicing their concerns over the amendment.
Tammy Cook-Searson, Chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, said in the letter sent to town council, LLRIB stated their concerns that increasing the hours of liquor sales may increase the risks of accidents, violence, and crime.
“We felt that increasing the hours is meant to sell more liquor, and we also stated our strong concerns that increasing the amount of hours that liquor sales are available also increases the amount of accidents due to alcohol, the violence, the drugs, and the crime-related offences that occur because of alcohol sales,” said Cook-Searson.
She explained that the band was pleased to learn about the outcome of the new amendment.
“I’m really pleased that the town council was able to review our letters of concern that we submitted by the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, the FSIN, PAGC, and also the Community Alcohol Management Strategy, so I’m pretty confident that they took those into consideration, so we’re really pleased that there was no amendment to the bylaw that was being proposed to extend the liquor retail hours, but we would hope that any decisions like this where it’s impacting all the communities that we would be taken into consideration for consultation,” said Cook-Searson.
The amendment failed to pass its third reading on May 23.