Community creates strategy to tackle alcohol problem in Prince Albert

Community members in Prince Albert, Sask., are coming together to try and find a solution for what's being called an alcohol crisis.

Community searching for solutions to reduce binge drinking, alcohol-related crimes

Community members in Prince Albert are trying to find a solution to the city's alcohol misuse problem. (CBC)

A strategy to handle severe drinking problems in Prince Albert, Sask. was revealed today, and community members are eager to help bring about change. 

The plan lays out solutions to decrease alcohol abuse from the young to old. Misuse of alcohol has been connected to a long list of issues, including higher than average crime statistics in the community, and high levels of binge drinking among youth. 

Solutions suggested in the plan range from closing liquor drive-through locations to legalizing pot, to making it socially unacceptable to be drunk in public. 

When it's affecting your life and changing your life and changing the life of your family and your community, then things have to change.- Fern Fernie, retired nurse

Police Chief Troy Cooper said it's not just about public safety, although that is one piece of the puzzle.

"This is about a community acting together, community setting priorities. It's going to make it a safer, healthier place to live," he said. 

The report found that 37.5 per cent of violent crimes committed between 2010 to 2012 were found to be related to drug or alcohol abuse. 

Other solutions include mandatory alcohol education for students in grade 6 and 7, as well as putting interlock devices on every car to reduce drunk driving incidents.

Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper says addressing alcohol is about setting priorities for the community. (CBC)

The report also suggests the city have its own full-time liquor inspector to reduce over-serving and binge drinking. 

Both were identified in the report as being big problems in the community. 

Fern Fernie, a retired nurse, said it doesn`t have to be that way.. 

"I think it's all right to have a drink once in a while, but when it's affecting your life and changing your life and changing the life of your family and your community, then things have to change," Fernie said. 

Enforcement

City Councillor Rick Orr said the city is looking into how to address the problem as well. 

"How we deal with alcohol in our community is important to figure out, as a community, what things that we need to do to control it to some degree. For instance, maybe something to do with the hours, how many outlets there are. It may be the way that we enforce it," Orr said. 

The report will be undergoing two community consultations at the Prince Albert Exhibition Centre, on May 5 and 12 at 6:30 p.m CST.

The group behind the strategy says input from the consultations will be included in the updated version. 

With files from Jennifer Quesnel