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Alcohol consumption in Thunder Bay: health unit eyes policy change

In light of a report that shows nearly half of Thunder Bay residents are consuming more alcohol than guidelines recommend, the district health unit wants a discussion about alcohol policies in the region.

Local government can help to manage the availability of alcohol, health unit official says

A report issued by the Thunder Bay health unit last month, states that close to 50 per cent of people in the area drink too much. (CBC)

In light of a report that shows nearly half of the residents of Thunder Bay, Ont, are consuming more alcohol than guidelines recommend, the health unit wants a discussion about alcohol policies in the region.

Thunder Bay health unit planner Sheena Albanese said Thunder Bay has had an alcohol policy for a number of years but is using the report as an opportunity to revisit them with city and municipal leaders across the region.

Albanese said municipal policies work with provincial regulations covering when alcohol is served at public events and the extent of advertising for beer and liquor in public spaces such as arenas and parks.

"We're not sure what their [the various municipalities'] needs are yet, we want to just start the conversation," Albanese said.

She said local-level governments have options such as including "things that can help to manage the availability of alcohol, even things like managing the density of alcohol outlets in a city or in a municipality."

The report, which was issued by the health unit last month, states that close to 50 per cent of people in the area drink too much.

At a board of health meeting on Wednesday, members agreed to use $4,500 from Public Health Ontario to bring in policy experts. 

Albanese says she's hoping to hold meetings with the experts in Thunder Bay, and sessions in two other communities in the Thunder Bay District Health Unit's area — likely in places like Marathon, Greenstone, or Manitouwadge.

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