Brockton council approves zero-tolerance approach to municipal alcohol policy

·3 min read

BROCKTON – Council approved a staff recommendation to implement a zero-tolerance approach to the municipality’s alcohol policy regarding alcohol in arena dressing rooms.

While most members of council agreed with Coun. Steve Adams, who said the zero-tolerance policy was “doing the responsible thing,” there were concerns that it might encourage adult recreational teams to play elsewhere, and that the policy should likely have gone before the recreation committee before coming to council.

The report prepared by Mark Coleman, director of community services, referred to the March 25 and 26 adult hockey league end-of-season tournament at the Walkerton arena. Staff had experienced ongoing concerns about the length of time some individuals and teams had been spending in dressing rooms after games, and in consumption of alcoholic beverages in dressing rooms, especially on Friday nights. Coleman said management were at the arena Friday night when the last game ended at 9:15 p.m., and Saturday, when the tournament ended at 7 p.m.

The report stated several people were stopped – some of them twice – from carrying in several cases of beer in gear bags and a large cooler. A couple of people were warned during the day on Saturday about having open alcoholic beverages in hallways and the lobby.

In addition, the standard dressing room time allowed is 30 minutes before and after the game, but staff had to repeatedly ask teams to leave a couple of the dressing rooms after 45 minutes. The last teams to play Friday night finally left the arena at about 12:15 a.m. About 20 vehicles remained in the parking lot overnight, along with several large garbage bags containing empty beer cans.

The issue is not new – the same thing happened in 2019, and resulted in the development and implementation of the dressing room conduct policy.

The report noted consuming alcohol in non-licensed portions of the arena is not allowed under the provincial Liquor Licence Act, and creates a high risk of liability for municipality.

The report stated staff shouldn’t be expected to deal with situations that arise from violations of the municipality’s liquor policy.

Coleman said in the report that consuming alcoholic beverages in dressing rooms by adult hockey teams and leagues has been a longstanding practice, but this doesn’t make it right or responsible.

First to comment was Coun. Kym Hutcheon, who said she was disappointed “some people think they’re above the rules.” She added that the place to party is a restaurant or private home, not the arena, and noted the potential for liability.

Adams suggested that since this is a change from what has been the norm, recreation management should meet with the user group leadership.

“We need to let people know what we’re doing and why,” he said.

Coun. James Lang said he understood the legalities, but asked it there was “opportunity for options.” He commented on the vehicles left in the parking lot, saying, “I think that’s great.”

Included in the discussion was a report on the municipal alcohol policy.

At the request of Lang, the report was tabled, and will be referred back to the recreation committee. There were a number of issues that councillors would like further information about, including how the policy would affect the Dirt Pigs tournament, the Elmwood Community Centre and the Hawks’ Nest.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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