The Tavistock Royals request for an exemption has been denied by staff at East Zorra-Tavistock township, a move supported by members of council. 

The township’s recently approved alcohol policy means fans of the senior hockey club are no longer able to consume alcohol in the standing room area at the top of the tiered seating at the Tavistock and District Recreation Centre. Team President Kyle Wynette asked for the status quo to remain at a recent council meeting.

Staff came up with two temporary options for the team to consider, the first is to only license the upper hall where the current blueline club is situated until the end of October. The second is an exemption to have alcohol consumed in the tiered seating area of the arena until the end of October in addition to the hall. The capacity would be at 732 people which would require three bartenders, five floor monitors, and three licensed security guards. Township CAO Karen DePrest told members of council on Wednesday that the team is willing to accept the second option which will be in place until the end of the month when staff does more homework on a permanent solution and makes some edits to the policy. “When we turned over a rock, we found other rocks that need to be turned over,” said DePrest. Councillors and staff spent about 20 minutes discussing different options and ideas including one from Deputy Mayor Brad Smith who asked if the team could license part of the seating to reduce the burden of volunteers and staff needed to operate the serving of alcohol. 

The township will continue to review the policy and will be providing suggestions for revisions with an update at the October 18 meeting in Innerkip. 

The report presented to councillors said staff did not have an opportunity to conduct a site consultation with the township’s insurer, Intact Insurance, nor was staff able to consult with the Township’s Fire Prevention Officer, as he was unavailable. It is staff’s intention to get advice from both of these parties. In addition, staff will be contacting similar sized municipalities with alcohol policies and who have organizations serving alcohol in their arenas, to see how they are addressing these types of concerns. DePrest added they will be talking to other municipalities. “We can’t fix this in a week and a half. There isn’t time to make structural changes. Patience would be appreciated so we are giving you a short-term solution. We are going to talk to other arenas who are making it work.” Fire Chief Scott Alexander was present at the meeting and said one of the challenges is the upper walkway wasn’t designed as an area where booze would be served.

Mayor Phil Schaefer thanked staff for coming up with the two options for the Royals. “I think (it) is thinking outside the box. This is kind of a unique situation and we’ve got a unique solution albeit for a short period, but it will allow the Royals to do this. When we met with them in August, and it was mostly the playoff games that were going to be the issue (with high attendance).” He added he isn’t a fan of licensing the tiered seating, “but it’s clearly the option we have.”

The Royals open the season this Saturday with a home game against the expansion Georgian Bay Applekings. Players from last year’s championship team will get their rings at a ceremony in the blueline club following the game and a banner will be raised in the rafter. The puck drops at 7:30.

By Lee Griffi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Oct 05, 2023 at 15:08

This item reprinted with permission from   The Gazette   Wilmot-Tavistock, Ontario

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