Finance minister open to extending bar hours for Alberta music clubs
Joe Ceci, minister responsible for liquor regulations, a live music fan
A proposal to extend liquor service hours at Alberta clubs featuring live music is getting a positive reception from the minister in charge of the province's liquor regulations.
"I think as long as people are positively engaged in bars as opposed to pounding back drinks, then that would be great," Finance Minister Joe Ceci said in a year-end interview with CBC News.
Proponents say allowing clubs to serve liquor until 3 a.m. gives them a chance to be more profitable, and gives musicians more places to play.
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A motion in support of the proposal was passed in the legislative assembly in the last sitting.
NDP MLA David Shepherd, who was a musician prior to his election as the MLA for Edmonton Centre last May, came up with the idea to extend club hours with Thom Bennett, a musician, producer and studio engineer, and Edmonton city Coun. Scott McKeen.
The group is concerned that a number of live music spots have closed, giving musicians fewer places to perform in Edmonton.
They say allowing the clubs to serve liquor until 3 a.m. gives the businesses a chance to recover the costs needed to pay performers and maintain equipment, plus gives musicians more places to play.
While introducing the motion in the legislature, Shepherd noted the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission permitted bars extended hours to open at 5 a.m. the morning of the men's gold medal hockey game during the Winter Olympics in February 2014. The AGLC has also allowed early serving during the last two Calgary Stampedes.
"So far the AGLC has not received any reports of concerns or issues with these practices," he told the legislature.
Ceci, a former chairman of the Calgary Folk Music Festival and a live music fan, suggested patrons of live music venues may be less likely to cause trouble at closing time.
"Whenever I go to listen to live music, there's a lot of people focused on the music and they're not there for the party atmosphere," he said.
Ceci said staggered hours could also help prevent the rush for taxis that usually happens around 2 a.m., a complaint he used to get when he was a Calgary city councillor.