Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Those drinkin’ and fightin’ Podunkians

While Prince Rupert’s economy may have seen a few better days, sales of Alcohol in the city are doing quite well thank you very much.

Statistics released from a number of sources provide data which shows that on the North Coast, sales increased 38 percent in 2006 from their levels in 2005.

When it comes to the rankings of communities across the province, Prince Rupert is holding its spot at 27 of the 395 municipalities that were surveyed.

Overall in Prince Rupert, each resident has spent 343 dollars more in the purchase of alcohol per year, a rather startling number when you factor in the idea that more than likely a fair number of residents probably don’t imbibe as much as some of their neighbours, but apparently those that do, really do!

The increase of consumption doesn’t come as a terrible surprise to the local RCMP detachment, which connects the dots between alcohol consumption and most of the violent crime in the city on a nightly basis.

The Daily News had those crunched numbers and more in Monday’s paper, including a quote from the Mayor which might be of interest to the owner of Subway, who recently installed some pretty heavy duty looking gating for his frequently damaged windows.

“We do want to make sure when a license negatively affects a neighbourhood we want to make sure that we do all we can to limit it,” said Pond.

Judging by the frequent incidences of smashed windows at that one location and a few others around town, some might beg to differ on that impression.

Alcohol consumption in Rupert still increasing
Sales in the area went up 38 per cent from 2005 to 2006
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Monday, September 8, 2008
Pages one and three

Startling statistics seem to point to an increasing number of alcohol consumption in Prince Rupert.

According to a compilation of statistics from both B. C. Stats and Statistics Canada on the Skeena-Queen Charlotte Regional District acquired by the Daily News, there was a 38 per cent increase in alcohol sales in 2006 from 2005, or an increase of $343 spent per person each year.

The B. C. Liquor Control Board reported there were 59 licenses to sell, serve or distribute alcohol in Prince Rupert in 2005, ranking the city 27th out of 395 municipalities around the province.

Constable Krista Vrolyk of the Prince Rupert RCMP said that the connections between rising alcohol consumption and availability in the city was linked to much of the violent crime in the city – especially the downtown core.

“Most of the violent crime we respond to are liquor-related violence between two people who know each other,’ said Vrolyk.

“That can be in the front of domestic assault where spouses are being assaulted, or it can also take the form of a fight in the street after a bar closure.”

Vrolyk said that one thing local police has done in an attempt to address assaults taking place after bar closures and late-night vandalism is enhancing patrols in the early morning hours.

She added that the police presence was focused on nights when there was a high volume of people downtown like Friday and Saturday nights.

“We’ve got extra police presence patrolling the downtown in hopes of preventing the incidents,” she said.

Leona Peardon of the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Committee of Prince Rupert said that she was sure the link between increasing consumption and availability of alcohol in Prince Rupert was linked to not just violent crime but also FASD here in the city and throughout the nation.

“The people who are indulging in alcoholism are the same people who are getting pregnant.

“They know that they should not be drinking alcohol when they are pregnant but they go ahead and do it anyways.

“They think the risk is worth taking,” said Peardon.

Peardon said that she knew of pubs that would not sell liquor to pregnant moms and hoped that the rest of the city’s liquor distributors would take a similar stand.

“We really respect the pubs that do not serve pregnant mothers-to-be,” Peardon added.

City Mayor Herb Pond said he wasn’t convinced there are direct links between the number of liquor establishments and liquor abuse.

“Each one (liquor license) is considered individually based on the merits of the proposal being made and the impact it might have on the neighbourhood. Whether we have five licensed restaurants or 15 licensed restaurants in town those just simply provide alternate choices for legitimate residents who aren’t abusing alcohol.

“We want to be careful not throwing out the baby with the bath water,” said Pond.

Mayor Herb Pond said there isn’t a blanket answer as to how the increase of liquor licenses and sales affected abuse in the city and defended the city’s handling of liquor licenses.

“We do want to make sure when a license negatively affects a neighbourhood we want to make sure that we do all we can to limit it,” said Pond.

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