September 19, 2016 6:14 pm
Updated: September 19, 2016 6:35 pm

Best Bar None program helps keep people safe at Lethbridge watering holes

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Lethbridge is hoping a new program will make nightlife safer in Lethbridge. Provincial and city officials were at Lethbridge city hall to launch the project. Global’s Kimberly Tams reports.


Vicky Vanden Hoek has owned a Lethbridge pub for 25 years and keeping her employees safe is a priority. She’s one of the first pub owners in Lethbridge to sign up for the Best Bar None Program.

It’s a volunteer accreditation and awards program aimed at improving public safety at bars. It was developed by the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission.

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“It’s awesome to have the patrons come to a safe environment , but it’s also important to have our employees work in a safe environment,” owner of Honkers Pub and Eatery Vicky Vanden Hoek said.

There are over 100 items on a checklist that establishments must obey. The program also involves follow-up reviews, making sure businesses are abiding by the rules.

“There are things like the basic ones, like over-serving, security training and police management,” Eric Baich, with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, said. “You would think every bar in the province would have strong policies, but you would be surprised a lot don’t.”

Lethbridge police say they want residents to feel safe when they are enjoying a night out.

“Usually when we show up at these bars, it’s because of a negative occurrence,” Sgt. Kevin Mortensen said. “In this instance, we can show up and help them put policies and procedures in place that will assist them.”

The program is a partnership between the City of Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Police Service, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) and the community’s hospitality industry.

“The program’s success relies on a proactive approach to addressing harmful behaviour and providing more enjoyable entertainment environments in Lethbridge,” Mayor Chris Spearman said. “We encourage all eligible venues to apply to become accredited.”

Already operating in 120 accredited establishments in Edmonton, Calgary and Grande Prairie, the Best Bar None program aims to reduce alcohol-related problems by:

  • Encouraging businesses to adopt best practices related to customer safety and responsible service of alcohol
  • Giving businesses the tools to be better prepared for any violent incidents
  • Building positive relationships between the industry, enforcement agencies, governments and community

It’s up to local establishments to get involved and those participating will be easy to spot: just look for the sign in the window.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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