The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)

The District of Tofino has put new restrictions in place around alcohol at public events. (Westerly file photo)

Tofino puts new restrictions on alcohol at public events

Town’s council adopts Municipal Alcohol Policy.

Tofino officially adopted a policy that had been brewing for nearly two years last week, but they likely won’t be popping the champagne.

The town’s municipal council approved the final draft of a municipal alcohol policy on Jan. 12.

In a presentation to council, the district’s manager of corporate services Elyse Goatcher Bergmann explained that the new policy is specific to public events and leaves the door open for further policies around alcohol in other aspects of community.

The policy was first raised by Coun. Tom Stere in 2019 and came in the wake of a presentation to council from then Central Vancouver Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Paul Hasselback.

READ MORE: Health officer urges Tofino to address alcohol problem

Consultations with public health officials and Tofino residents, including a public survey, took place throughout 2020.

“We got a lot of great responses that informed the content of the policy and how we’ll be rolling it out from here,” Goatcher-Bergmann said.

Under the new policy, all public events serving alcohol on municipally owned property will require approval from council and approval will automatically be denied to any events being held at public parks, docks or trails.

“Public parks are intentionally set aside as inclusive community spaces. Public parks should not be designated for exclusive, adult-only uses such as those that serve alcohol,” the policy reads.

It adds that alcohol on docks and trails presents a “significant safety concern for participants and first responders.”

The policy also prohibits alcohol at community events targeting families, like Family Day, Canada Day and parades.

“The provision of alcohol does not add significantly to the atmosphere or quality of events that intentionally target the inclusion of families and children, and may jeopardize the overall appeal to a multi-generational audience,” it reads.

Organizers of events must be clear in their marketing materials that alcohol will be present.

“Sober individuals, people with children and people with substance use issues should be aware if the event intends to serve alcohol so that informed choices can be made,” the policy reads.

READ MORE: Concerns pour in as Tofino’s Hotel Zed requests new liquor licence

Events must also provide a security plan as well as options for safe transportation, like an event shuttle or volunteer designated driver program.

“Event organizers have a duty of care to event attendees, and are legally responsible for ensuring that attendees do not drive while intoxicated and that potentially intoxicated persons arrive home safely,” the policy reads.

The policy mandates that events must include a separate area for non-alcoholic drinks that cannot be combined with a bar, “so that guests do not have to stand in the same line-up for alcohol to receive a nonalcoholic drink” and prohibits any announcement or signal indicating ‘last call’ when the bar is closing.

“Announcing a “Last Call” can encourage binge-drinking at the end of the event, resulting in high blood alcohol levels that may peak after the event and lead to impaired driving and other issues,” it reads.

The policy, which was unanimously approved by council, will be up for review in 2023.

Coun. Stere thanked district staff “for a policy that fully embraces the intent and direction that council gave for the creation of this municipal alcohol policy” and said he “very much supported” adopting it.

“The intent was to recognize and reduce the potential harms associated with the service of alcohol at municipal events on public property and you fully embraced those intents,” he said. “I also feel that it further provides a framework to look at the issues related to alcohol consumption and availability in the community and serve as a directional guide in the decisions that we sometimes have to make on this issue.”

He added that the new policy will help guide regional discussions around alcohol, which he called “a very significant public and social health issue in our communities and our broader region.”

READ MORE: Tofino council clashes over new liquor store application

Prior to landing on council’s desk for final approval, a draft policy was reviewed by Central Island Medical Health Officer Dr. Sandra Allison who responded in a letter commending Tofino “for taking the initiative to create policy solutions for the well-documented community and individual harms of alcohol use in our communities.”

“I appreciate that the purpose and scope of the draft policy are to prevent harms related to public consumption at events which may disengage families or other community members and impact community inclusivity,” she wrote. “I agree strongly that these community activities are opportunities to support more healthy social behaviours, rather than alcohol consumption.”

Dr. Allison suggested though that the district may not have gone far enough to curb alcohol access and wrote that council should pursue further restrictions through land use bylaws, business licensing and alcohol pricing while also limiting advertising and promoting healthy alternatives.

“The municipal authority includes the ability to limit liquor outlets, outlet operation hours, and pricing schemes, in collaboration with operators,” she wrote. “Going further in the policy to limit liquor outlets and operation hours, to limit the harms related to excess alcohol availability is within the authority of the municipal leadership and in the spirit of good municipal alcohol policy.”

READ MORE: Tofino police believe alcohol was a factor in Thursday night car crash

She recommended that Tofino’s new policy specifically be labelled for events to allow room for future alcohol policies that address other aspects of the community and suggested she is keen to work with Tofino towards more robust restrictions.

“I am committed to working with you to decrease the harms related to alcohol use in your community. I would be very happy to discuss an enhanced policy which would more fully address the concerns we have around alcohol use in our communities, but what you have drawn up is a great start,” she wrote.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

READ MORE: Tofino council opposes new liquor licence for Hotel Zed

READ MORE: Tofino council rejects new liquor store

READ MORE: Behest of the West: Time is right for a later last call

alcohol tradeEventsmunicipal politicsTofino,

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Visitors relax at the natural hot springs located within Maquinna Marine Provincial Park. ( photo)
Maquinna Marine Provincial Park boardwalk project on track

“The walk down the two-kilometre boardwalk to the springs itself is by far one of the most incredible experiences.”

WILDLIFE TREE: Tofino Poet Laureate Christine Lowther stands next to a giant cedar tree on District Lot 114, the site of Tofino’s controversial affordable housing project. The tree was pinned with an official Ministry of Forests yellow wildlife tree sign to educate fallers that the tree needs to be left standing for food, shelter and nesting. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Tofino author Christine Lowther calling for poetry about trees

“I’m thrilled to be of service to trees through poetry.”

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Tofino’s mayoralty candidates lay out key differences

Tofino will elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

FILE – A COVID-19 vaccine being prepared. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
B.C. seniors 80 years and older to get COVID vaccine details over next 2 weeks: Henry

Province is expanding vaccine workforce as officials ramp up age-based rollout

Clockwise from top right, chamber executive director Jen Dart moderated a Zoom-based forum last week where Tofino’s mayoralty candidates J.J. Belanger, Andrea McQuade and Dan Law made their pitch to lead their community. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Tofino mayoralty candidates face off at forum

Town to elect new mayor and two new councillors on March 6.

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

1957 photo shows Six Mile House-sponsored #4 1932 Ford stock car with Frank Morris (from left), Ted Mackenzie, Bill Sim and driver Gerry Sylvester. (Bud Glover/Victoria Auto Racing Hall of Fame)
Memories race as Western Speedway approaches its finish line

‘It was life to us:’ Vancouver Island racers, crew will never forget what the track gave them

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Most Read