Original Published on Jun 30, 2022 at 12:03

By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Sexsmith is looking to the City of Grande Prairie as it works toward building a bylaw to sell alcohol at town-owned ball diamonds.

Town council is directing corporate services to develop a policy and procedure that allow liquor sales there.

The issue was brought to town council by a user group, which has booked the diamonds for the August long weekend. It wants to use the concession stand on-site for liquor sales.

Last Monday night, town council made an additional motion for the interim that will let administration allow ball tournaments with beer gardens and camping until a policy is developed. User groups will be required to have an Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) license and liability insurance.

“I’m not really sure I want this in my backyard,” said coun. Jonathan Siggelkow last week, noting the ball diamonds are surrounded by residential homes.

“Our concerns revolve around not only care for our residents, we have to think of things like noise, that was a discussion that came up (during the council meeting) because we do also have a noise bylaw,” said Kate Potter, Sexsmith mayor.

She noted after 11 p.m. on weekdays, patrons will need to be mindful of sound and noise.

“We want this to be a safe environment, and we want it to be a great event and opportunity,” said Potter, “but it also means that we have to really balance what should and should not be allowed.”

She said reminders of the bylaws, such as the noise bylaw, will be delievered to those using the ball diamonds.

“We’ll do some research on what other municipalities have done, and we did have a little bit of background from the City of Grande Prairie,” said Potter.

“It will be a much more fulsome package when it comes to corporate services just exploring options and opportunities.”

In the City of Grande Prairie, alcoholic beverages are not permitted at the South Bear Creek Park unless a liquor license is obtained and only in designated areas.

Alcohol is also never permitted in the diamonds, including bleachers and dugouts.

The Grande Prairie Regional Recreation Committee ball diamond user behaviour guidelines also do not permit alcohol unless specifically approved in writing and complies with applicable regulations.

Coun. Daycie Bohning said having a beer garden may be safer as it would limit where alcohol could be, and having security on site would help with it being not drunk in areas other than in a beer garden.

Sexsmith administration said if alcohol were to be sold at the ball diamonds, there would need to be a closed-off area.

Potter says the policy coming back from Corporate Services will cover ball tournaments and address alcohol, camping, and fire pits.

She said council needs more time to decide on how to best offer these services to organizations and determine the best ways to do it.

The ball diamonds in Sexsmith are seeing an increase in use, said Potter.

“We’ve recently redone all of our dugouts and have put in some work into the ball diamonds; we know there’s growing interest, especially for fun leagues,” said Potter.  

Overall she believes it’s a benefit for the town to have more ball tournaments as it brings people into the town, and they use Sexsmith businesses.

This item reprinted with permission from Town & Country News, Beaverlodge, Alberta