Zurakowski takes a stand against alcohol

Tyler
Tyler Clarke
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Taxpayer dollars should not go toward the purchase or distribution of alcohol, Coun. Ted Zurakowski successfully urged city council at Monday’s meeting.

 

Coun. Ted Zurakowski speaks at Monday’s city council meeting, during which he successfully encouraged his fellow elected officials to take a stance against alcohol. 

“Times have changed,” he explained after the meeting. “This isn’t 20 years ago.”

In a city with as serious an alcohol problem as Prince Albert, seeing the City of Prince Albert help fund an event that serves alcohol doesn’t sit well, he said.

“I’m uncomfortable with that, and I’d like to think that the taxpayers are uncomfortable with that,” he said. “The City of Prince Albert shouldn’t be buying bottles of wine.”

Up for debate was a $2,500 funding request for the 2014 Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies, set to take place at the Art Hauser Centre on Friday.

Zurakowski clarified that he’s supportive of the event, which is projected to bring in 700 visitors and produce an economic impact of more than $80,000.

At Monday’s meeting, he ensured that the city’s sponsorship of $2,500 was earmarked for non alcohol-related components of the event. Organizers will be encouraged to find funding for alcohol elsewhere.

Although it comes across as a shifting of money, Zurakowski said after Monday’s meeting that it was an important stance for the city to make.

The city needs to take on the issue of alcohol “at every chance we get,” he said.

Community Mobilization Prince Albert is currently working on a comprehensive regional alcohol strategy.

On average, Prince Albert residents over 15 years of age spent approximately $1,249 per person on alcohol in 2011.

By comparison, Moose Jaw residents spent only $731 per person and the provincial average is $703.

Between May 2009 and 2012, city police spent $2.55 million on the arrest and lodging of people due to public intoxication.

During this timeframe, 5,565 people were arrested for public intoxication, of whom 552 were youth.

In 2012 alone, 1,341 hours (or 55 days) of policing services were spent on public intoxication arrests.

Of Prince Albert tenth-graders, 67.9 per cent reported binge drinking. The national rate for Grade 10 students is 49.4 per cent.

Earlier this year, the city began banning taxicabs from using drive-thru liquor stores -- a means of cutting back on passengers forcing taxicab drivers from becoming reluctant bootleggers.

In 2012, Mayor Greg Dionne began making a public plea for the province to allow the city to limit the hours that liquor stores are allowed to be open.

In the end, the province decided against allowing municipalities the ability to set liquor store hours. As such, city liquor stores can remain open until 3 a.m., although bars close at 2 a.m.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Art Hauser Centre

Geographic location: Prince Albert, Moose Jaw

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