The people of Dawn Township can raise their glasses to this: it turns out the former township residents can have alcohol at special events after all.
Dawn Township was thought to be one of the last areas of Ontario where people were unable to sell liquor or get a special permit for liquor at a public event. After getting a request from a business owner in the hamlet of Rutherford, Dawn-Euphemia Council was thinking about putting the issue on the municipal election ballot this year.
That’s when Chief Administrative Officer Mike Schnare started investigating and what he found out was a bit of a surprise.
There had been a referendum in 1997 – shortly after Dawn-Euphemia became one municipality – and 67.55 percent of the population agreed to allow alcohol by permit or in licensed premises such as restaurants. Another question, which would have allowed the Ontario government to set up a liqueur store, if it wanted, failed by the smallest of margins says Schnare. The vote needed 60 per cent to pass – 59.62 per cent of voters wanted liquor in stores.
“Everyone was under the impression for years and years that Dawn was dry, but since that vote technically it wasn’t,” says Schnare. “Dawn would have been able to permit the sale since Nov. 1997.”
But that wasn’t happening. Schnare says if groups such as the firefighters association would go to the LCBO store in Dresden for a permit for a special event, they would be turned down because “Dawn is dry.”
So what happened?
After some investigating, Schnare says the problem seemed to be with the former Liquor License Control Board, now the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Schnare says the LLCB didn’t’ t register the results of the 1997 vote.
“Somewhere along the line the message didn’t seem to get through there that Dawn was no longer dry,” he says. “It was very clear when you look through the voting, the ability was here since 1997.”
That means Dawn-Euphemia won’t have a referendum on the issue this election. “The bottom line is if someone wants to get a special occasion permit in Dawn, they can.”