Bars, restaurants and lounges in Calgary will be allowed to serve liquor earlier for the duration of the Stampede.
The new hours kick in Friday morning, parade day in Calgary. Those looking for an early morning drink can order as early as 7 a.m. MT.
Then, on Saturday through to the end of the Stampede on July 13, beer and liquor can be served as early as 8 a.m.
In a statement released Thursday, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) said it is using the Stampede as an opportunity to further pilot extended hours for special events.
Liquor rules were also relaxed during the men’s hockey gold medal game at the Sochi Olympics in February.
"This will allow us to get a better sense of both the industry’s as well as the wider community’s appetite for potential changes to liquor laws [that] we plan to look at further down the road,” said Bill Robinson, president and CEO of the AGLC.
Normal serving hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. The AGLC said there is no requirement for bars to apply for the Stampede extension.
Calgary police will monitor closely
Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson says the force will watch for any negative impact from the extended hours.
"Are we seeing a difference in impaired driving? Are we seeing a difference in those social disorder calls? Are we seeing a difference in the disturbance calls that come from those places where serving alcohol starts early in the morning?"
Hanson says they'll wait and see what the impacts are.
"For the vast majority of people who see Stampede as an opportunity to let their hair down, it in some way legalizes what we know is already going on," he said.
"I think the idea of having a beer at 6 o'clock or 7 o'clock or 8 o'clock in the morning is kind of reprehensible. I, personally, I don't see what the draw is."
Extended hours make sense, says lobby group
The decision to extend serving hours for the city's bars and restaurants has the group representing restaurateurs pleased.
The group says this is an opportunity for everyone to test out different ways of doing business.
“It absolutely makes sense to give these extended service hours a try during a big event like the Stampede so that all of us know what works and what doesn’t when we’re looking at expanding business opportunities for bars and restaurants,” said Mark von Schellwitz of Restaurants Canada in a statement.
The AGLC says it will evaluate this pilot with bar owners, law enforcement and other liquor industry stakeholders.