Nova Sco­tia end­ing plebiscites for ‘dry’ com­mu­ni­ties

Truro Daily News - - Colchester County/Province - BY MICHAEL TUTTON

A Pro­hi­bi­tion-era law that has for decades re­quired “dry” Nova Sco­tia com­mu­ni­ties to hold plebiscites on whether to change their liquor rules is com­ing to an end.

Nova Sco­tia’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment an­nounced the change to its Liquor Con­trol Act on Tues­day, mak­ing it the last ju­ris­dic­tion in the coun­try to end the un­usual rit­ual.

e law had called for votes when a busi­ness wanted to make or serve al­co­hol in a dry town, or the Nova Sco­tia Liquor Corp. sought to open an out­let in com­mu­ni­ties where the sale is re­stricted.

ere are about 100 com­mu­ni­ties - mostly in ru­ral ar­eas and some too small to sup­port a bar - where the dry laws re­mained in place since the 1920s.

As of Jan. 1 of next year, their mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ments can quickly end this sta­tus if a brew­ery or liquor store wants to set up.

Nova Sco­tia has been the only prov­ince that re­stricted where liquor can be sold or pro­duced through pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­tion. Other prov­inces have long re­lied on mu­nici- pal zon­ing or by­laws to im­pose re­stric­tions.

e list of com­mu­ni­ties that were con­sid­ered dry has been based on an old map in a gov­ern­ment o ce in Hal­i­fax that is sup­posed to show which ones are still locked in Pro­hi­bi­tion.

But the names are so faded that the doc­u­ment is of lit­tle use.

When an ap­pli­ca­tion is made for a ru­ral liquor li­cence, re­search is of­ten re­quired to de­ter­mine if the area is still dry be­cause the elec­toral bound­aries have been re­drawn many times over the years.

ere’s also a di er­ent list of o cially dry com­mu­ni­ties when it comes to the op­er­a­tion of liquor stores.

Since tav­erns were rst le­gal­ized in Nova Sco­tia in 1948, over 280 plebiscites have been held by the prov­ince’s al­co­hol and gam­ing di­vi­sion.

As Fi­nance Min­is­ter Karen Casey made the an­nounce­ment on Tues­day, she noted re­cent plebiscites have had poor turnouts and have seen lop­sided vic­to­ries to end the liquor re­stric­tions.

It has also been two decades since any area voted against al­low­ing the loos­en­ing of liquor re­stric­tions.

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