News / Calgary

Businesses petition to allow open liquor on Calgary's 17th Avenue

As construction continues on the popular shopping destination businesses are trying to get creative and bring people back to the avenue

As businesses struggle with the loss of customers due to construction on 17 Avenue SW, some want to relax liquor laws to bring people back to the street.

ELIZABETH CAMERON / Calgary Freelance

As businesses struggle with the loss of customers due to construction on 17 Avenue SW, some want to relax liquor laws to bring people back to the street.

Imagine strolling down 17th Ave SW without having to hide the fact that your Gulp-sized Slurpee is, in fact, a tall drink of wine.

A number of businesses along the popular commercial area are floating the idea of letting consumers walk the streets with plastic to-go cups with booze to help re-invigorate the construction-laden area.

Troy Wolfe, Pet Planet franchisee, started the petition with eight ideas to help keep vitality on 17th avenue alive while the city continues construction of the popular shopping and nightlife corridor over the next two years.

He's a member of the stakeholder group invited by the city to participate in workgroup sessions with the city to keep the area vibrant during construction from Macleod Trail to 14 Street.

Wolfe's ideas include making the area a good place for pedestrians to congregate, complete with benches and tables along with better storefront advertisements and easier access to food trucks and buskers.

"We're supposed to have a progressive mayor, a progressive premier and progressive Prime Minister, so to me this is progress, this is a no-brainer," said Wolfe. "Why is Texas further ahead than anywhere in Canada when it comes to liquor laws."

Wolfe said he hasn't met a business owner that doesn't support his petition and has had more than 300 signatures. He hopes to present the petition to council hoping they will bite with the news that like other stores on the strip he's projecting a 60 per cent loss over seven months next year.

"That could force us to close," said Wolfe.

According to the AGLC there currently isn't a way to permit open liquor.

Peter Oliver from the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association said the popular stretch could be a great place to try out open boozing beyond the construction days.

"It's a really good idea and it's worth trying," said Oliver. "We're a modern civilized society, I think some of these rules that have existed for centuries might not make any sense anymore and to test on a trial basis I think could potentially help discover new good things."

Oliver said there are still laws for public intoxication and rowdiness that can help mitigate the effects of relaxing where alcohol can be consumed.

The BNA president said this is a good time to try out new things on 17 Avenue as the city construction chugs along.

"We have to stop just looking at solving the vibrancy issue downtown and on 17 Ave through just a parking lens and more through a placemaking lens," said Oliver. "And that's exactly what this is doing."

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