The path has been cleared for alcohol to be served at a wider variety of municipal-owned facilities, including the stands during Lakers games. At the last Fort Frances town council meeting, a by-law was passed, amending the Municipal Alcohol Policy (MAP), which governs where and when alcohol can be served on town property
Under the new MAP, several new areas of town property are eligible for Special Occasion Permits. SOPs are issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Removed from the restricted list are: Memorial Sports Centre – Ice for Kids Arena, (excludes dressing rooms and ice surface when ice is in); St. Francis Sports Fields; Memorial Sports Centre Grounds; Point Park and outdoor rinks.
Remaining on the approved list from the 2018 policy are: Memorial Sports Centre – Auditorium; East End Hall; Museum; Library; Council Chambers / Committee Room (Town Hall); Sorting Gap Marina; Sunny Cove Camp and Rainy Lake Square. The Fort Frances Seniors Centre was originally on the restricted list, but was removed in 2022, after a request from its board, in an effort to make the facility more attractive and lucrative as a rental venue. The airport grounds have been dropped from the permitted venues listing in the new MAP.
Under the new rules, any group or organization wishing to serve alcohol at these venues is required to comply with any requirements set out by the AGCO, as well as comply with municipal requirements, including full, qualified staffing for set-up, clean-up, serving and sales, as well as additional insurance and access to safe transportation, and several other requirements.
Town administration reserves the right to deny any request due to reasons including: cost to municipality; maintaining passive use of parks; and exceeding a threshold of events with alcohol at a designated facility, to be determined by the designate for that site. Administration is also authorized to
approve minor deviations to the Municipal Alcohol Policy, based on technical grounds, on
an event‐by‐event basis. Administration can also choose to exclude alcohol in additional spaces on a case-by-case basis, such as playing surfaces or dressing rooms.
Alcohol is not permitted on streets and boulevards unless approved as part of a street closure by the Manager of Recreation and Culture or designate, or as part of an approved pop up patio operated under an existing restaurant liquor license.
The change was initiated by a request from the Fort Frances Lakers management team, in July. The hope was to allow the serving of alcohol in the stands at home games, in an effort to attract more ticket sales; alcohol is currently allowed in at least some games for all of the other teams in the SIJHL.
The request prompted an online survey, to gauge public support for the move, which saw a 70 per cent approval rating for the change.
This was the second time this request had been made by the team. The last was made in 2017, which prompted opposition from the Northwestern Health Unit. Consultations with the NWHU inspired the 2018 MAP.
The Lakers will be on the road for the next few weeks, but are scheduled for home games on Oct. 27 and 31 against Kenora, and Oct. 28 against Kam River.