Town of Raymond seeks community input on possibility of legally selling alcohol


LETHBRIDGE, Alta. –

You can’t legally order a drink at the Hell’s Creek Golf Course or any restaurant in Raymond for that matter, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from drinking it.

Some residents think it’s time to change the rules to reflect reality.

“The golf course already sees a lot of (illegal) alcohol activity, so it would be nice to see it done in a secure atmosphere,” said Angela James, manager of the Brimstone Grill in Raymond.

For more than 100 years, Raymond has been a dry community, but that could soon change. With the passage of the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act in June 2020, the province removed prohibition across Alberta.

Now, the town is asking residents if they want alcohol to finally be served legally in the community, something James hopes to see.

“Licensing puts us, we have the opportunity to put people in positions to monitor, so they’ll be marshals and even the staff just monitoring it and doing it in a safer environment,” said James.

On Tuesday, the town launched a seven-week public engagement process to gather community input on amending the land use bylaw to allow restaurants in the community to sell alcohol.

Right now, if anyone in the town of 4,000 wants to buy beer or liquor, they need to drive to Lethbridge.

“Instead of making a rush decision, council wanted to engage the public to see what their feelings were, if there was interest in allowing alcohol sales of various forms or if there wasn’t,” said Kurtis Pratt, CAO with the town of Raymond .

APPLICATION PROCESS

The province has now opened the door to an application process from restaurants that want to serve booze.

“Council kind of thought it would only be a matter of time before an application was received by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) for a specific license class to be had within the community,” Pratt added.

For restaurants looking to serve alcohol, the AGLC said in a statement, “If the municipality chooses to remove the bylaw, restaurants and individuals who would like to sell or supply alcohol would require a liquor license. Because Raymond is a community without a license, AGLC would refer the application to the municipality who would then have 90 days to make a decision.”

Pratt said it isn’t the first time the topic has come up for discussion, with the nearby communities of Stirling and Cardston also looking at allowing alcohol sales.

In Raymond, the only thing being considered for now is restaurant sales, not liquor stores.

“Right now, the town is only considering Class A licenses which are restaurants where minors are present, but food is the primary source of revenue,” said Pratt.

James said that with the addition of alcohol sales, the restaurant could see an increase in revenue leading to more jobs for the community. She said safety would remain a top priority.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re not planning to serve highballs, we want to just simply do it so that people can (drink) something while they’re having the experience of the golf course,” said James.

There will be two public engagement events at the Raymond Seniors Center on March 9 and 23, with a livestreamed version available on the town’s website.

Residents can get involved online from March 24 to April 7 by visiting https://raymond.ca/letstalk/


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