Should Alberta change how and when it sells alcohol? 

Two provincial cabinet ministers posed that question Sunday after bars were allowed to open at 5 a.m. for the Olympic gold medal men’s hockey game.

 

Police reported few problems and the apparent success of the initiative prompted Labour Minister Thomas Lukaszuk to ask his Twitter followers if they would like the province to change how it regulates liquor sales.

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis also joined in:

On Monday’s Edmonton A.M., Justice Minister Jonathan Denis told the CBC’s John Archer that it’s worth having the discussion, particularly about staggering bar closing hours. 

“There has been quite a conversation the last 18 hours or so on my Facebook and Twitter about whether or not this would increase people’s safety,” Denis said.

“Right now, at 2 o’clock you have people stampeding out of the bar, often after one too many, looking for taxis … if it were a longer period of time, would you have a more steady supply of taxis?”

Expanding bar hours won't make much difference in finding a cab if all bars close at the same time, cab drivers warn.

"The government should give a trial to it," said Balraj Manhas. "That's what our suggestion is. They can see. Don't rely on this one particular hockey event."

Ryan Donaldson, bartender at The Elephant and Castle on Edmonton's Whyte Avenue, said he'd like the freedom to serve alcohol for off-hour sporting events such as soccer games, but allowing later liquor service wouldn't do much for the bottom line.

hockey bar

Fans were able to enjoy a pint of beer while they watched the Olympic men's hockey game early Sunday morning. (CBC)

"Maybe as a bit of a culture shock at first, but I think after time people would just adapt to different hours of going out and coming back in," he said.

On the issue of where liquor is sold, Denis admits that as a consumer it would be more convenient to pick up a bottle of wine at the grocery store. However, he worries about regulating sales. 

“Would that inadvertently increase accessibility to minors?” Denis asked. 

The president and CEO of the AGLC, Bill Robinson, says he is open to discussing changes to liquor regulations, but he believes that police and municipalities need to be consulted.