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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN AB: Alcohol Ban At All-Nighters Lifted
Title:CN AB: Alcohol Ban At All-Nighters Lifted
Published On:2012-01-26
Source:Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Fetched On:2012-01-27 06:02:48

But Event Promoters Warned to Take Quick Action on Safety Concerns Or
Risk Reversal of Decision

All-night dances in Edmonton threatened with a ban on booze will be
allowed to keep serving alcohol - at least for now.

A group of councillors decided Wednesday the city should repeal a
bylaw inadvertently passed in the fall that would have prohibited such
dances from serving alcohol during bar hours then continuing on as
alcohol-free after-hours parties.

But committee members warned dance promoters at council's executive
committee meeting that their industry must take quick action to tackle
safety concerns raised by police and paramedics about the mix of
illegal drugs and alcohol at such events.

"There will be no second chance in this, at least from my point of
view," Mayor Stephen Mandel told event promoters. "There's an awful
lot of onus on you."

A typical rave at the Shaw Conference Centre can draw more than 5,000
people. Fans and promoters worried that a liquor ban would harm ticket
sales, push raves underground or lead to more use of illegal drugs
such as ecstasy.

Rave fans flooded councillors' email inboxes in protest. High-profile
DJs weighed in on the issue too.

Several councillors said they were looking for a way to keep the
popular events open, while at the same time dealing with issues raised
by the city's public safety compliance team.

Edmonton Police Sgt. Nicole Chapdelaine said the all-night events seem
to have a higher rate of medical emergencies than regular nightclubs
and bars. Karen Smith of Edmonton's Sexual Assault Centre told
councillors that organization's crisis phone receives double its usual
number of 15 calls a night after one of these events.

Still, a majority of council members on the committee decided that by
banning liquor sales the city was targeting the wrong substance.

"Does it strike you as ironic that we're talking about striking the
legal thing out of your event?" Coun. Don Iveson asked promoters of a
ban on alcohol sales.

But councillors want to see the entertainment industry take tougher
measures, at their own expense, to help rid all-night parties of
illegal drugs and overconsumption.

Edmonton DJ Mikey Wong said efforts to promote the message of
responsible consumption via social media before the last event at the
Shaw Conference Centre seemed to help curtail the number of problems.

"Now the community needs to come together to make sure the events are
safe," said Viet Nguyen, operator and partner of Boodang, which
co-ordinates three to four events a year. "We're going to do our best
to come up with some new ideas and think outside the box."

Wednesday's debate was complicated by the way the new rules ended up
as part of the bylaw in the first place. It was originally passed as
part of a series of changes to business licence regulations. Although
council asked for issues related to after-hours dances to be removed
to discuss them more thoroughly, officials say they were accidentally
passed as part of a larger rewrite of the business licence bylaws.
City officials said they were not enforcing the bylaw until council
could deal with the issue.

The executive committee's recommendations must still go before a full
city council meeting on Feb. 1.
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