Today the B.C. government, in collaboration with the BC Healthy Communities Society, released a guide to help interested local governments and First Nations better plan for events involving alcohol, creating a safer, healthier setting for event-goers and the community.
"We want everyone to be able to enjoy special events in a healthy way. We also want communities to feel safe and respected," said Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid. "The B.C. government is helping municipalities take action to prevent and reduce health, social and fiscal costs associated with hazardous alcohol consumption. This new guide will help local governments and First Nations ensure that events at their facilities are safe and well managed."
The guide encourages local governments and interested First Nations to develop and implement a Municipal Alcohol Policy of their own. By creating a Municipal Alcohol Policy, local governments clearly identify where alcohol use is permitted on municipal/community property for events such as weddings, birthday parties or festivals.
Having a Municipal Alcohol Policy, which outlines training, signage and insurance requirements, is an effective way to reduce disorder and vandalism, as well as policing and community costs. It also protects the local government and First Nations community from liability issues and ensures the safety of the people who use publicly-owned facilities and recreation areas.
The guide shares the successes and lessons learned from Whistler and Maple Ridge, who each developed their own Municipal Alcohol Policy as part of a pilot project.
"Maple Ridge is proud to have contributed to the development of the guide," said Cheryl Ashlie, Maple Ridge councillor. "Working through the process of developing a Municipal Alcohol Policy has enabled us to strengthen our local government role in managing alcohol-related harms and costs."
A Municipal Alcohol Policy can also create a healthier community by promoting practices that encourage moderate consumption of alcohol through education and awareness. This policy ensures healthy options, like easy access to safe modes of transportation, food and non-alcoholic beverages, are available to event-goers.
Local governments and First Nations can apply for grants up to $7,000 to develop a Municipal Alcohol Policy through BC Healthy Communities Municipal Alcohol Policy Program until Jan. 15, 2013. A second call for applications is expected in the spring.
"The Municipal Alcohol Policy Program is an excellent opportunity for local governments and First Nations to create safer, healthier environments for the community as a whole," said Jodi Mucha, director, BC Healthy Communities Society. "Through funding support and guidance of the Municipal Alcohol Policy guide, communities can utilize the very practical tools and resources they need for developing and implementing a comprehensive Municipal Alcohol Policy."
The commitment to partner with local governments to target districts and events which have high levels of hazardous drinking in order to reduce injuries, violence, vandalism and other health and social costs is a key component of Healthy Minds, Healthy People, the B.C. government's 10-year plan to address mental health and substance use. Fostering partnerships to create healthier communities is also a key component of Healthy Families BC.
- A Municipal Alcohol Policy impacts all local government and First Nations community owned and managed properties, including recreation centres, halls, sports arenas and fields, parks, and beaches.
- This kind of policy also supports the work of B.C.'s Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.
- The first of these policies were implemented in Ontario in the early 1990s. Since then, they have been proven effective at reducing alcohol-related problems at events held on municipal properties.
To view the guide, please visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2012/creating-municipal-alcohol-policy.pdf
For more information on BC Healthy Communities Municipal Alcohol Policy Program, visit: www.bchealthycommunities.ca/mapp
For more information on Healthy Minds, Healthy People, visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/healthy-minds
For more information on creating healthy communities, visit: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)