Alcohol ads

Officials with the Capital District Health Authority want the city to ban alcohol advertising on Metro Transit buses and ferries. (CBC)

City council has voted to consult the public first, rather than make a decision Tuesday on whether to prohibit alcohol advertising on Metro Transit buses and public property such as fire halls and skating rinks.

The vote was 13 to 2 in favour of the consultation, which has not yet be scheduled.

The push to ban the alcohol ads from city property and transit is being spearheaded by local health officials. 

The Capital District Health Authority says young people riding on buses and ferries are a captive audience and promoting beer and liquor on public transit can lead to heavier drinking.

It also wants Halifax regional council to stop beer companies from sponsoring free rides after events such as parades and Natal Day celebrations.

But staff with the Halifax Regional Municipality have recommended council not change the current rules and say regulating liquor is a provincial matter.

Mike Savage, the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality, said before the vote he doesn't believe an outright ban on alcohol advertising would be effective.

"We have a hockey team that's been named after a beer company for a long time," he said, referring to the Halifax Mooseheads.

"I think we have to be very careful about where we put beer advertising and particularly how we advertise responsible use, which is a component of our municipal alcohol policy."

Late night drunkenness may be a problem in downtown Halifax, but Savage said he doubts he would vote in favour of the proposed restrictions.

"I’ve always said that I think we can do a lot on municipal alcohol control," he said. "I'm not convinced that you ban all advertising and that that has an impact."

Not everyone on council agrees. Coun. Gloria McCluskey supports the proposed changes and said health experts are better qualified to know the effects of alcohol advertising on youth.

She's disappointed the city sees otherwise.

"It really disappoints me," she said before the vote. "Thirteen-year-old kids drinking. Living with what happens, because of their drinking, the rest of their lives."