Provincial budget loosens the rules around alcohol consumption

Following Thursday’s provincial budget, municipalities across Ontario are getting some new power. Relaxed restrictions around alcohol mean cities can now liberalize local rules about where and when you can drink.

Municipalities will now be able to authorize licensed establishments to serve alcohol at 9 a.m. The province will also allow bars and restaurants to advertise “happy hour” drink pricing and municipalities will be allowed to permit drinking in parks.

The pros and cons of changing the rules around drinking in Hamilton will now have to be weighed by the municipal government. Mayor Fred Eisenberger is already flagging his concerns about potential impacts on health.

“When it comes to addiction issues and problems with addiction, alcohol is at the very, very top of the list. I’m sure that will be an issue on the minds of many members of council.”

The province is also planning to make alcohol more accessible around the community, expanding sales to convenience stores, big-box stores and more grocery stores.