One town councillor does not want to see alcohol at events at the new Rainy Lake Square.
“I really feel that the consumption of alcohol should be left out of our outdoor, brand new market square,” Coun. June Caul told the Times after Monday night’s regular council meeting.
“There’s children involved on the street and people walking by,” she noted. “We don’t need alcohol in that facility.
“We’ve got enough bars and enough restaurants around the area,” Coun. Caul added.
“If they want to serve liquor, or if somebody feels they need to have it, they can do it behind closed doors, not out in the public,” she reasoned.
Coun. Caul recalled that Dr. Kit Young-Hoon, medical officer of health for the Northwestern Health Unit, spoke to council back in September about the town updating its Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP) to be consistent with the latest strategies to mitigate health harms related to alcohol misuse.
“The town agreed to work with them [health unit] to try to deal with the problem of excessive alcohol use in this area, and for us to promote it in that open market square, it’s counterproductive,” she argued.
“We’re kind of changing our tune all of a sudden, as far as I am concerned.”
Coun. Caul brought the topic up in reference to a report from economic development consultant Tannis Drysdale that outlined recommendations as to how the Rainy Lake Square will operate.
In regards to alcohol, the report recommends allowing bar and restaurant businesses with catering endorsements to sell alcohol at events at the Rainy Lake Square.
Under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, a catering endorsement allows businesses to temporarily extend their licence to another location, including outdoor public spaces.
With this endorsement, the business in question is responsible for the site as it falls under its licence for the duration of the event being catered.
The report does not recommend allowing alcohol service under a special occasion permit, as this would be competitive with businesses and the Rainy Lake Square is “meant to encourage and grow local business,” the report noted.
Allowing catering endorsement alcohol sales will support bar and restaurant businesses while allowing full-service events, it added.
Another recommendation includes reservations.
The Rainy Lake Square will be reserved through the Memorial Sports Centre facility reservation system. The BIA and town’s economic development office will have access to the system.
The economic development office will assist with bookings, encouraging utilization by the community, said the report.
Yet another recommendation regards usage. Usage options outlined include:
•Option ‘A’–Casual use (such as birthday parties and gatherings)
The square remains open to the public during such use. No reservation is required.
•Option ‘B’–Fenced-in ticketed events
Reserved by community groups and charities.
•Option ‘C’–Fenced-in private events, such as wedding receptions and socials
Reserved by private individuals, and neither open to the public nor ticketed (invitation only).
A fee to be charged.
•Option ‘D’–Utilization of the square for for-profit purposes, such as trade shows or car shows
A fee to be charged.
The report recommends council should allow all usage options for the first season of operation, then revisit the options in early 2019 based on how it goes this year.
It also recommends developing a fee for uses ‘C’ and ‘D’ based on fees for the rental of the Memorial Sports Centre auditorium ($427.20 plus HST for residents of Fort Frances; $534.00 plus HST for non-residents).
A fourth recommendation is that smoking be prohibited at the Rainy Lake Square.
The recommendations will be reviewed.
Council referred the report to the Community Services executive committee for its recommendation, with input from the Planning and Development executive committee.
The official opening of the Rainy Lake Square will take place on Thursday, May 17.
Two farmers’ markets per week (on Thursdays and Saturdays) will be held between May and September.
The markets will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. each day.
Vendors will be encouraged to arrive for set-up at 8:30 a.m., with the exception of vendors that request to do so earlier due to farming schedules.
Markets will be hosted by the BIA so vendors must apply with them.
The economic development office will support market operations.
Ten 10’x10′ canopy tents, bearing the “Rainy Lake Market” logo, and 10 small folding tables will be available for vendor use during markets.
All food vendors at the Rainy Lake Square will need to acquire permits as required by the Northwestern Health Unit.
An events program for the 2018 season also has been developed through consultations with the BIA and the Fort Frances Museum.
Economic development staff will work with community groups to host programming at the Rainy Lake Square from the May long weekend (May 18-21) to mid-September.
Events will be hosted each Thursday between 6-8 p.m. during this period. These may include concerts, kids’ programming, movie nights, plays, and concerts.
A summer concert series is planned for one Thursday of each month.
More information will be forthcoming, but tentative concert dates include May 17, June 14, July 18, Aug. 16, and Sept. 13.
Just last week, the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, through its “Celebrate Ontario” program, awarded $5,500 to be used toward the Rainy Lake concert series.