Don’t expect alcohol at bars for Olympic hockey finals, unless you’re in Toronto, Halifax

The Olympic motto, "Higher, Faster, Stronger" could apply to spectators as well as athletes.

When it comes to Canadians watching Winter Games action taking place on the other side of the world in Sochi, Russia, the words do have a different meaning.

Despite the time difference putting Sunday's gold medal men's hockey final on TV at an ungodly hour, some fans want to be able to imbibe something stronger than coffee so they can get higher watching the possible rematch of the 2010 Canada-U.S. Vancouver classic. And faster? Well, that depends on how quick the servers are in replacing those beer jugs.

But in much of the country, they won't get the chance. While bars and other establishments that serve alcohol are opening for the early-morning game, the taps will remain shut. More coffee, folks?

Toronto city council on Thursday passed a motion to extend bar hours, allowing them to start serving drinks at 7 a.m. for the final events of the Games this weekend, the Globe and Mail reported.

Ontario's City of Toronto Act gives city council the power to extend alcohol service hours "during events of municipal, provincial, national or international significance," the Toronto Sun said.

"I don’t think there will be a lot of beer getting sold at 7 a.m. when some of this starts but rather than be caught in a position where folks aren’t able to celebrate and have a beer while watching hockey, I’ve put a motion forward,” Councillor Mike Layton, the motion's sponsor, told the Sun ahead of the Toronto city council debate.

[ Related: B.C. bar hours extended for men's Olympic hockey ]

Perhaps not surprisingly, the idea had the initial backing of the Ford brothers, Mayor Rob and Councillor Doug, the Sun said.

“It’s good for business — you’ve got to look at the business side of things,” said the mayor. “If they want to start drinking at six in the morning that’s going to be pretty rough but yeah, absolutely, let ‘em open the bars.”

With the exception of Toronto, the rest of the province will be dry. Ontario's Alcohol and Gaming Commission is turning down individual applications to allow liquor service before the normal 11 a.m. time in most licences, the Ottawa Citizen reported.

Spokesman Jeff Keay told the Citizen requests generally are granted when directly related to "a live and local event of significance," such as the Toronto International Film Festival and Ottawa's Winterlude. The commission has not granted any extensions for the Sochi Games and "is not considering a province-wide extension of service," he said.

CBC photoAlberta drinking establishments were given permission to start serving liquor as early as 8 a.m. throughout most of the Sochi Games.

But Calgary Sun columnist Michael Platt wrote the time has been rolled back to 10 a.m. Sunday, despite the fact the game, which starts at 5 a.m. Mountain Time, will long be over by then.

Jody Korchinski, director of communications for the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, said the fact the game's final whistle likely would come even before 8 a.m. meant there was no reason to grant an earlier serving licence.

“We are strongly encouraging the gathering and we certainly appreciate the need and desire for Albertans to do that and hopefully cheer Canada on,” said Korchinski.

Platt wrote most Alberta bars aren't bothering to open early; without booze sales it's a losing proposition. But a few are hoping the government's liquor nannies will change their minds.

[ Related: Pubs allowed to serve alcohol early for Olympic hockey ]

 

“I can’t understand their concern — I couldn’t imagine what the thought is, especially for something that only happens once every four years, if they manage to reach the gold medal game,” Michael Voigt, manager of Calgary's Shark Club sports bar, which has applied to serve booze, told the Sun.

“You think there’d be something about wanting us to cheer on our nation.”

In British Columbia, where the puck drops at 4 a.m., provincial liquor authorities have also nixed a relaxation of liquor laws.

"I have to balance things like public safety, public health, and also community interest," Justice Minister Suzanne Anton told CBC News earlier this week.

But on Thursday, Anton relented slightly, allowing pubs and bars to stay open overnight as long as they don't serve alcohol until 9 a.m., the Vancouver Sun reported.

Outside of Toronto, about the only place you may be certain of getting a drink during Sunday's game is at Bubba Ray's sports bar in Halifax, according to the Toronto Star.

The bar, which has been packed for much of the Games, received a special liquor licence that allows it to open and serve liquor as early as 6 a.m., just in time for the opening faceoff.