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Red Deer City Council considers designating a downtown Entertainment District

May 9, 2022 4:17 PM
(Red Deer, Alberta)

Red Deer City Council considered the development of a new bylaw at their regular council meeting today, following a request from the Downtown Business Association (DBA) to designate the Ross Street Patio area as an Entertainment District.

Entertainment Districts are new to Alberta, created in December 2021 through an amendment to the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, and are described as designated public areas where adults may consume alcohol outside of licensed premises while enjoying various types of entertainment.

“Research into the topic has shown that, while relatively new in Canada, there are numerous international jurisdictions where open consumption is allowed in public areas,” said Erin Stuart, Inspections and Licensing Manager. “Learnings from those areas show that Entertainment Districts provide opportunities for municipalities to revitalize key neighbourhoods, drive tourism, and support local businesses. Working with the Downtown Business Association is an opportunity for a unique partnership and provides the option of working together on any issues that arise.

Following a review of the request from the DBA, City administration determined a new bylaw is needed to support the request and sought direction from City Council before proceeding. Council voted unanimously in favour of directing administration to move forward with drafting an Entertainment District Bylaw, with the intention of presenting to Council for first reading on May 24. A short timeline for implementing the bylaw is set to maximize the use of the summer season.

It is anticipated that the bylaw will address items such as approved location(s), hours of operation, fees, and limitations on breakable containers. Research for the bylaw will include information on whether additional insurance is required for the district. An Entertainment District in Red Deer will not allow public intoxication, underage drinking, use of cannabis, or the bringing in/ taking away of alcohol to/from the district. The bylaw could be expanded to include other areas outside the downtown in future years, but the first iteration of the bylaw will focus solely on Ross Street Patio.

The City will consult with the DBA and Ross Street businesses to obtain input on the proposed bylaw and its potential impacts on these businesses. The bylaw will be the first of its kind in Canada.

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