Strathroy suggests adding places to drink

·3 min read

Changes have been recommended to where people can drink alcohol in Strathroy-Caradoc.

The senior centre was removed as a place that can ask for a liquor license from the municipality, as it is no longer run.

The Fair Grounds Recreation Complex, which is all the property at the fairgrounds, was added. A change in how it is used is why it was added, according to director of community services Rob Lilbourne.

“We didn’t hold events up there… that’s starting to change relatively rapidly,” said Lilbourne at May 24’s community development advisory committee meeting.

Council still needed to approve the changes at a regular meeting.

He described as past licensed events mainly consisting of Hometown Festival coming up this weekend, Falling Leaves Festival in September, Oktoberfest, and the odd ball tournament.

Lilbourne explained the advantage of being a licensed event, using the Hometown Festival’s licensed area in Alexandra Park as an example.

“That’s a revenue generator for the festival. If they didn’t have that component, chances of the festival being able to operate could be limited,” said Lilbourne.

Jessica Austin was concerned about mixing alcohol with youth-adjacent programming, pointing to Lions Club fundraisers and the soccer fields allowed to be licensed as an examples.

“Where we would want to promote physical activity and family-oriented events. It seems to be countering to be able to have that also licensed; that would counter the intention of that space and that activity,” said Austin.

“But we also need to keep in mind that those fields aren’t just used for youth. They are also rented by adults,” said Lilbourne.

“I understand what you’re saying, but I think if we sit here and say no because youth play on that field, then we run the risk of saying no to everything because youth are everywhere.”

He used the example of the Easter egg hunt as an event at the fairgrounds that is family-oriented in an area that can be licensed but would not be, while another event for adults could use that same space a different time. The community centre was used as another example.

“Even as adults, the adults that are there doing sport for example. Why would you license a soccer field?” responded Austin.

Lilbourne said Yorkview Park encompassed all the fields and buildings on the property. He also said the drinking would more likely be in a beer garden off to the side as opposed to on the field.

“It’s not our responsibility to determine whether or not it’s going to be a licensed event or unlicensed event. What we’re doing is providing the ability for the community members if they wish to have a licensed event,” said Lilbourne.

Coun. Marie Baker, who is on the committee, said she would hope youth soccer tournament organizers did not plan on licensed events.

“That’s not the target audience for something like this. But my son plays FC London soccer; they’re all 20-something men. They sell beer and alcohol at their games. The players don’t consume it but some of the spectators do. And that revenue helps keep the cost down for the team, too,” said Baker, who agreed it is counterintuitive to the fitness goal of sports.

The committee passed recommending the changes to council unopposed.

Lilbourne also said there has been a push to license parks in general to allow adults to have a drink, but that has not been included in this update. Lilbourne said that push is being discussed in larger centres especially, and is primarily for apartment residents who do not have the luxury of a backyard.

“It’s not something I’d support at this time,” said Lilbourne.

Chris Gareau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Middlesex Banner

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