New alcohol policy not yet on tap in Guelph-Eramosa

In an ef­fort to try and reduce the potential for “alcohol-related incidents” like fist fights and thefts, the Township of Guelph-Eramosa is trying to de­velop a revised municipal alcohol policy.
But on Monday night, several problems were identified by council with the version pre­sented to them by parks and recreation manager Robin Milne.
Councillor Doug Breen had several questions, including why the new document eliminates beer tents as an acceptable venue.
“Beer tents are as Canadian as hockey,” Breen said, adding he sees no reason why there can’t be beer tents at events such as baseball tournaments.
Breen also questioned the stipulation that at least one bar staff at special events has to be employed by the township. He said if someone who is a qualified bartender with Smart Serve certification wants to volunteer his time for his friend’s wedding, it should be allowed.
Perhaps the township should “push back” at its insurance provider – Cowan Insur­ance Brokers – which has made the request, Breen added.
He also questioned the need to have a township employed bartender at an event like a Sunday afternoon church function at a township facility.
Milne replied that the township is trying to ensure consistency with the new policy – which also calls for an increase to $2-million in liability coverage from $1-million – so there cannot be a separate set of rules for different sizes of events.
Councillor John Scott also disagreed with several points of the new alcohol policy.
“I don’t think it’s ready to go yet,” Scott said of the document. He wondered why the community hall in Eden Mills is not included on the list of facilities that are eligible for special occasion permits.
The list presented by Milne includes the Rockmosa com­munity centre, Marden community centre, Rockwood fire hall, Marden Park, Lloyd Dyer Park, Rockmosa Park, and Eden Mills Park.
Mayor Chris White said the hall in Eden Mills is different. Although the township is a partial owner of the hall, the Eden Mills community runs it on its own, he said.
But Scott replied that there is alcohol served there at special occasions, and if there was ever a lawsuit related to alcohol, the township would be named in it because it is a part owner.
Scott also asked why councillors were not provided with a copy of the current alcohol policy so they could compare the two documents.
Milne said he would get councillors a copy of the current policy. He explained the insurance provider has re­quested a township representative be present for special events, which is also the rule in other municipalities. And he figured a bartender would be the “easiest sell” to potential renters, as most renters need a bartender anyway.
Currently the township designates bartenders, but they are paid cash at the end of the night by the renter (at a rate of $15 per hour for a minimum of seven hours). The new policy would make them “casual part-time employees” of the township, Milne said.
In addition to bartending, those employees could also provide information and services such as the location of the electrical breakers in the event a DJ loses power during a wedding or a buck and doe, he added.
Clerk Janice Sheppard said the township’s lawyer has also recommended there be at least one township representative on site during special events.
“Otherwise you lose control,” she said.
Breen said rental fees should not increase as a result of the new stipulation, because everywhere else that is included in the price of the rental.
Mayor Chris White agreed, and said, “Whether it’s a bartender or not, we need at least one municipal staff member on site.”
Councillor Roger Knapp asked why the bartenders could not be considered “volunteers.” Then they could still be covered by the township’s insurance policy – like the volunteers who look after ice rinks in the winter – and could be paid in “tips,” he said.
White replied this situation is different because it deals with alcohol and special events put on by private organizations or individuals. White, summarizing the concerns expressed by councillors, asked Milne to make the following changes to the policy:
– clarify if the Eden Mills hall needs to be on the list of facilities eligible for special occasion permits;
– clarify the number of township employees needed on site during special events (for larger events, could there be one township bartender and one or two more provided by the renter?);
– remove beer tents from the list of ineligible venues; and
– include bartenders in the rental fee schedules.
White also said Scott would be submitting some minor changes to Milne for consideration. Council voted unanimously to defer the policy.