In a momentous decision that unfolded on a Tuesday evening, the town council of Cardston, Alta., reversed a century-old prohibition that had held sinew-y strength since 1902. After 121 long years, the town has abandoned its dry status, thereby allowing the sales of alcohol within its borders.
The council, breaking away from tradition, saw a majority vote of 5-2 in favour of eliminating the sales ban. Mayor Maggie Kronen advocated for the historic change, though her anticipations were tinged with trepidation. “The potential implications of our decision could reconfigure our town in unexpected ways”, said Kronen. “Yes, fear has found a way into our proceedings. Yet, I place my trust in the wisdom of our people.”
The ambience at the council meeting was charged, punctuated with passionate sentiments from councillors and community members alike, divided starkly over the issue. With the bylaw now enacted, local restaurants and recreational facilities, such as golf courses, are permitted to sell alcohol. The decree, however, does not extend to the opening of standalone liquor stores.
Community backing for the bylaw was confirmed in May through a non-binding plebiscite, with a 53% majority expressing their favour. This marked a departure from its deep-seated history. Prohibition has been woven intrinsically into the societal fabric of Cardston for several generations.
Founded by Mormon settlers, Cardston resolutely maintained its dry status even as Alberta lifted its prohibition in 1923. Recent census data revealed that over 60% of the town’s residents are affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a religious denomination that strictly disallows the consumption of alcohol.
This shift in societal sentiment is noteworthy, considering that just seven years ago in 2014, a plebiscite saw two-thirds of voters voicing against the relaxation of the alcohol ban.
The passing of the bylaw signifies a new chapter in Cardston’s history, where restaurants and other recreational establishments are permitted to sell alcohol. Nevertheless, the town retains some control, by preventing the opening of standalone liquor stores.