Fort St. John city council rejected a proposal on Monday to extend weekend hours at Lonestar Nightlife to 4 a.m.
Council was responding to RCMP concerns that the move would lead to more police overtime, more drunk driving, and fewer officers to respond to calls during peak hours in the early morning.
Owner Jack Hynes was looking to extend Lonestar's hours to 4 a.m., even as just a pilot project, due to a “significant shift in today's nightlife" as people hit the town later than they used to. With crowds arriving around 12:30 a.m., they are turned out only 90 minutes later at 2 a.m., meaning only three hours a business a week, Hynes said.
“When we close our doors there is still an appetite for nightlife but without any of the safety. We have to find a solution to satisfy the changing needs,” Hynes wrote in a letter to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
“If we were able to extend our operation and liquor service hours to 4:00 a.m., we would be in a position to provide a safe and secure environment for any patrons that intend to stretch out their evening.”
However, Fort St. John RCMP "emphatically" opposed the application, saying the extended hours would “put an unprecedented strain on resources that are already stretched.”
There are three bars in the city where liquor service ends at 2 a.m., RCMP noted. Alcohol-related calls for domestic assaults, assaults, and weapons peak between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., and as patrols are made for drunk driving, according to RCMP.
Officers typically finish the last two hours of their shift investigating and writing up their files and court packages until 7 a.m., RCMP said.
Extending liquor service to 4 a.m. would lead to more overtime, more drunk driving, and fewer officers to respond to calls during peak hours in the early morning, RCMP said.
“This causes additional strains for the members themselves with fatigue and burn out, lack of resources being able to be called on for other areas where extra bodies are needed,” RCMP said.
City council also has a longstanding policy dating back to 2003 that opposes licensed liquor establishments from staying open until 4 a.m. That policy came after a provincial decision allowing establishments to stay open until 4 a.m., with municipal approval.
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