PRRD passes on public hearing for Site C liquor licence

Camp company is applying to run a licenced lounge in the facility

Members of the public won’t have a say in a bar proposed for the Site C worker camp.

On July 14, the Peace River Regional District opted against commenting on an application for a liquor licence after a lengthy debate on how to best control alcohol in facilities that house industrial workers.  

ATCO Two Rivers Camp Services, the company hired to build and manage the 2,000-person worker camp for the controversial $8.8 billion dam project, is applying to run a licenced lounge in the facility. The facility will close at 9:30 each night and have a limit of two drinks per person.

BC Hydro says allowing camp employees to have a drink on site after work will prevent drunk driving and minimize the project’s impact on local police.

While the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will decide whether to issue the liquor permit, Fort St. John Coun. Byron Stewart thought the PRRD should comment on the application after holding a public hearing on the specifics of the licence.

"We’re not saying ‘no,' we’re trying to get all the information,” he said. "If we’re just ignoring (the opportunity to comment), I think we’re at fault.”

Area C director Brad Sperling initially supported public input on the liquor licence, saying 100 of his constituents live in the area and could be impacted.

He worried about workers leaving camp after the bar closed. While BC Hydro plans to operate a shuttle bus to and from town, he wondered whether workers would use it.

However, he eventually decided that allowing liquor in a controlled setting was the best option.

"Maybe having this establishment there, these guys will stay (in camp),” he said.

Area D Director Leonard Hiebert said allowing limited alcohol consumption in camp was better than the alternative.

“Having worked in camps that have a liquor permit and the ones they classify as ‘dry,' I find there's a lot more liquor appearing in the dry camps than the ones that actually have a liquor establishment,” he said.

"For me, the liquor licence eliminates the (workers) trying to sneak the liquor into the camp. They’re up front with it. They’re saying two drinks per person, they’ve already set out the guidelines."

Stewart, Area E Director Dan Rose and Hudson's Hope Mayor Gwen Johannson voted in favour of the public hearing for the liquor licence.

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