Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hey, Council, Remember the Alcohol Strategy?

A few years back, a committee to look at how to better manage alcohol use and the resultant problems in Prince Albert was established to develop an alcohol strategy.  It's no question that this city has an alcohol problem - most of the police calls are alcohol -related, and various initiatives, such as the detox centre, have been started to try to address the problem.  And yet the problem continues - last week, at a little past noon, Andrea and I drove by a drinking party going on in the City Hall parking lot.

So I was a little surprised to hear that a rookie councillor, supported by two other rookies, was advocating that the city increase the opportunities to have alcohol at city facilities.  I'm not sure which facilities they were talking about, as alcohol is already served at the Art Hauser Centre (profits go to the Raiders) and the Golf and Curling Club (which also keeps the profits), or what the motivation would be.  And I think that they may have forgotten that part of council's job is to set the big-picture direction for the city.

The tendency is to assume that people like us don't have a problem with  alcohol - it's those other people.  But we all know that isn't the case - alcohol abuse affects everyone, in all social classes.  I'm fond of a glass of wine with dinner or having a beer on the deck, but I also have (and have had) family members with alcohol addiction problems, and I know that the answers aren't easy.

But you can't say that it's difficult to find alcohol in the city, so the city should make it easier for people to get a drink at activities going on in city facilities.  As I mentioned earlier, in some cases they already can, and I don't see any pressing need to increase those opportunities.

And it's rather ironic that this idea should come out just when SGI has released its new public service announcement about the effect of drunk driving on real families in Saskatchewan.  I was surprised to find that I knew one of the victims, and the family of one of the others.  I can only imagine the pain of losing a family member in that way, and I commend the families involved for being so public spirited as to agree to sharing these memories.  It's a harsh reminder that Saskatchewan as a whole has a problem with drinking and driving, and part of our leaders' responsibility is to stand up against the problem, not pretend that it doesn't exist, for whatever reason.

"I've never seen anyone drink themselves smart, successful or happy.  Most end up broke, bitter and alone." - Anonymous

No comments: