Bar bans may be brewing for April

The Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia and its partners have "agreed in principle" to a program enforcing citywide bans for troublemakers at Halifax's drinking holes. If approved, the pilot project could be up and running by April.

Troublemakers at bars could face citywide bans as early as April. Photo: Adam Miller

A plan to enforce citywide bar-bans in Halifax is chugging right along, and last call may come as early as April for problematic patrons.

On Thursday, the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, which is spearheading the move, met with Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Regional Police and liquor enforcement authorities to discuss their plans.

The partners left the table with an "agreement in principle" to go ahead with the plan, said Gordon Stewart, executive director of the association.

He said the groups are set to reconvene in early March, after having "done their due diligence" investigating areas of concern.

Stewart said he expects the proposal to get the green light at that meeting, potentially starting the following month.

If approved, this program would see patrons booted from one establishment barred from all participating operations for a set period of time.

Maintaining a patron blacklist would be key in enforcing bans. Stewart wouldn't yet speculate on what information would be included or how it would be collected, citing legal privacy concerns.

Given it's a pilot project, Stewart said the program would be reviewed every two months during its early phases. If it proves successful, it could begin running across Nova Scotia by January 2011, he said.

"We're trying to get the bad elements out of bars and restaurants, and keep them out permanently," Stewart told earlier this week.

The program, dubbed "Bar Watch," would aim to reduce incidences of violence, criminal activity and underage drinking.

The program would be open to establishments with bar, lounge, dining or cabaret licences. Though participation is voluntary, Stewart said he hopes at least 15 establishments will sign on.

Similar Bar Watch programs are already running in Amherst, N.S., and Vancouver.


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