July 3, 2014 10:38 am
Updated: July 7, 2014 7:27 am

Calgary bars can serve booze earlier than ever during Stampede 2014

CALGARY – The already iconic parties held during the Calgary Stampede are about to start serving booze earlier than ever before.

The province has authorized bars, restaurants and lounges in Calgary to begin alcohol service at 8 a.m. (instead of the usual 10 a.m.) from Saturday, July 5th until Sunday, July 13th.

Meanwhile, liquor service will be legal even earlier on parade day, as bars can start serving up booze starting at 7 a.m. on Friday, July 4th.

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The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) announced the relaxed rules on Thursday.

Previously, they had granted extended service hours for private Stampede events such as corporate breakfasts, and say their decision to temporarily change the current rules was based on the success of those events.

“We’re taking this opportunity to pilot more flexible liquor service hours,” says Bill Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer. “This will allow us to get a better sense of both the industry’s as well as the wider community’s appetite for potential changes to liquor laws we plan to look at further down the road.”

“Restaurants Canada and our Alberta members are pleased to see that the AGLC is taking the steps in the right direction when it comes to liquor laws,” says says Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President Western Canada, Restaurants Canada.

“It absolutely makes sense to give these extended service hours a try during a big event like the Stampede.”

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The decision is one sparking concern for those at Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Calgary chapter president Terry Hughes says they hope people will make sensible choices, no matter what time of day they are drinking.

“If you are planning to be drinking, whatever the time of day, don’t even think about taking the car, figure out the wealth of other options such as transit and taxis, and don’t even be tempted to get behind the wheel because Calgary Police are out there in force during Stampede. Stampede is a great time to leave the car at home and enjoy parties and bars without any worries,” says Hughes.

“We do question whether this decision to extend opening hours was given enough time for consultation, and whether the police and emergency services were given enough time to prepare,” he adds.

“We won’t know the effects of this decision until after Stampede, and here at MADD we sincerely hope that there won’t be an increase in impaired driving or the consequences of it.”

In February, the AGLC relaxed liquor rules to allow bars and restaurants to open early for the Olympic gold medal game between Team Canada and Sweden.

Several Calgary bars took advantage of the move, and began serving booze starting at 5 a.m.

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