More than a year after its inception, the Prince Albert Community Alcohol Strategy is slowly moving towards its goals.
Trina Cockle, the local president of MADD, said at the moment, the steering committee’s focus is building partnerships in the community. She said the committee wants to have a bigger presence at family and alcohol-free events.
Cockle said she feels a lot of progress has been made since the strategy was launched in April last year.
“Specifically for my purpose, I’m making a lot of connections with other groups that sort of have the same goals as I do,” she said. “The strategy steering committee is there to steer our community in the right direction. It’s not there to be held accountable for what’s going on in our city. People look at it that way sometimes.”
A common question Cockle hears is what the steering committee has done to improve the alcohol problem. She said this is not the job of the committee.
Instead, the role of the committee is to be more about creating partnerships, promoting alcohol-free events and encouraging smart alcohol consumption.
Last year when the much-anticipated strategy – considered to be a living document at the time – was launched, a laundry list of recommendations were presented including addressing underage drinking and pushing for 21 to be the legal age to consume alcohol.
Another recommendation was bringing in a full-time liquor inspector for Prince Albert and region. At the moment, an inspector comes up from Saskatoon whenever there are inspections needed.
According to the alcohol strategy, the city has 50 licensed liquor premises.
Cockle, who hasn’t been able to attend recent steering committee meetings for personal reasons, believes the idea is being looked at.
Another area the strategy wanted to tackle was impaired driving. According to the strategy, over a three-year period, the RCMP received 22,876 reports of impaired driving – 10,462 were from the north district and 1,123 calls were for service in Prince Albert.
In January, the province introduced tougher penalties for those caught driving impaired. A first time experienced driver charged with blowing a Blood Alcohol Content over .04 will have their vehicle seized for three days. There is a zero tolerance for new drivers and those age 21 or under.
Cockle welcomed the tougher penalties.
“It’s got to start somewhere,” she added. “I still think there is a long way to go. Some people probably don’t like the new laws that have been passed but it is what it is and it’s still a big problem in our area.”
On Twitter: @labinereporter
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