© Herald photo by Matt Gardner
City bylaw manager Suzanne Stubbs (left) and Const. Lisa Simonson of the Prince Albert Police Service discuss the development of a Public Safety Compliance Team, which will co-ordinate efforts by municipal and provincial agencies to establish a safe environment for staff and patrons at licensed establishments and community events that serve alcohol.
A key part of the city’s developing alcohol strategy, the long-gestating Public Safety Compliance Team (PSCT) is now a reality in Prince Albert.
Established by the municipal government in conjunction with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, the PSCT is a multi-agency partnership that aims to ensure a safe environment for staff and patrons at licensed establishments, community events and public facilities that serve alcohol.
“The 18 months of research and development have already gone through,” Const. Lisa Simonson of the Prince Albert Police Service noted.
“We have the participation and commitment of the City of Prince Albert, Prince Albert Police Service, Prince Albert Fire Department and Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and we are now moving into the operational phase of this program and this initiative, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Representatives from each of those four regulatory agencies make up the PSCT, with city representatives acting on behalf of the Planning and Development Services and Community Services departments.
Similar to the city’s Hub and COR models, the PSCT is designed to reduce the “silo effect” separating different agencies by creating a more consistent and co-ordinated approach.
To achieve that goal, the team will be holding monthly meetings in order to share information between the four constituent agencies.
Another element of the team’s approach includes conducting joint agency inspections of licensed establishments on a more consistent basis.
Simonson stressed that education is as crucial to the PSCT model as prevention and enforcement.
“Let’s say there’s an assault that happens (in a licensed establishment),” she said.
“Well, the Public Safety Compliance Team, what we can do afterwards is we can then follow up with the owners … talk about the incident, because sometimes maybe their staff aren’t informing the owners or the managers as to what’s occurring. So it keeps everybody in the loop.
“Maybe there are things that could be prevented. Maybe it’s a person that needs to be banned from a premise. Maybe they’re looking at some type of a ban program -- how do they go about doing that?
“So it’s all about working better together, increasing the communication to help reduce those types of incidents, and we’re also there to help educate as well, because how can we expect the owners in the hospitality industry … to comply with (relevant laws and rules) if they don’t know what the rules are?”
While local police are co-ordinating the PSCT, the Bylaw Unit will also be looking for any bylaw infractions.
City bylaw manager Suzanne Stubbs offered the example of noise complaints at establishments near residences.
“Your neighbours need to understand that even though they're still a business there, they still have to comply with the fact that if you’re disturbing them, we can actually deal with that,” Stubbs said.
We are now moving into the operational phase of this program and this initiative, so it’s pretty exciting. Const. Lisa Simonson
Continuing the theme of education, she noted, “I bet you a lot of the establishments probably don’t even realize that. So it’s something of an education piece that we will provide with them.”
The Prince Albert compliance team is based on a successful model in Edmonton, which established its own PSCT in 2006.
“We felt that there was no need to reinvent the wheel,” Simonson said. “We wanted to look and see what best practices were out there, and we were able to take an existing framework and we’re looking at making it fit the needs of our community.”
In that spirit, the PSCT on May 13 held an information session for the 48 liquor permit holders of licensed premises in Prince Albert and organizers of local community events licensed to serve alcohol.
The team is anxious to build a positive working relationship with the city’s hospitality industry in order to co-operate with establishments on a continued basis, maintaining a flow of information and serving as a handy contact for management.
Simonson characterized the response of the local hospitality industry at the info session as very positive. She noted that safe establishments tend to attract more patrons.
“There were actually some really, really good ideas that were presented,” she said. “There was one licensed establishment that wanted more information on the provincial Serve It Right program, and that provides responsible alcohol service training for servers and staff of licensed premises.
“It’s not legislated here within the province of Saskatchewan yet -- we’re one of four provinces that it is not legislated. But it’s through the Saskatchewan Tourism Education Council, I believe … and they are lobbying very hard to try and get it legislated as it is in other provinces.”
Going forward, the PSCT plans to continue its efforts to work with local stakeholders.
“We’re … going to be taking the time to not only meet with the … organizers for major community events, but also with each of the licensed premises here over the next year, listening to any of the concerns that they have,” Simonson said.
“I know some of the concerns that they have were brought up at the information session, and that’s excellent, because we want to help them with some of their issues or problems that they are experiencing.”