Bourbon Street in Ottawa? City to debate changes to alcohol policies

Ottawa is getting ready to party in 2017 with changes to the city’s alcohol policy.

Don’t get too excited – this isn’t New Orleans and you won’t be waltzing down Elgin Street with a red solo cup all year – but the changes should erase some red tape for special events.

A revised municipal alcohol policy is set to go to city council on Wednesday, but concerns have already been raised about how changes can balance public health with business interests.

Last week during a committee meeting Jasna Jennings, executive director of the Byward Market BIA, suggested the city should look at a “Bourbon Street Model.”

The model allows multiple restaurants and nonprofits to apply for a special permit together.

As an example, the Bourbon Street policy would allow a patron to buy a drink at a Bank Street business and leave to attend a GlowFair concert with the same drink in hand.

But the recommendations going to council on Wednesday are much less drastic. Patrons won’t be allowed to leave restaurant patios and head to the streets with their drinks.

“City staff, in consultation with the Ottawa Police Service, was of the opinion that the Bourbon Street model did not provide for sufficient controls over the serving of alcohol to patrons and posed potential risks to public health and safety,” reads the report’s recommendation. 

It notes that out of nine other Canadian municipalities, only Toronto, Vancouver and Windsor permit the “Bourbon Street Model.”