February 1, 2018
Learn about how local governments limit the number of outlets where alcohol is sold
Inside this alcohol policy pack
- Background evidence: Alcohol and cancer
- Evidence-informed alcohol policy actions to reduce alcohol consumption in Canada
- Key statistics: Alcohol consumption in Canada’s largest cities
- Key statistics: Alcohol consumption in provinces and territories
- Public perceptions: Alcohol and cancer
- Economic evidence to support alcohol policy
- Indicators to measure progress on alcohol policy
Density of alcohol outlets
Regulate commercial and public availability of alcohola,1,2,3,4
Limit density of on- and off-premises alcohol outletsb,1,3,4
Degree of adoption in 31 Canadian municipalities
Current actions in Canada
A few examples exist at the municipal level in Canada where municipalities have limited density of alcohol outlets using zoning and, or land use bylaws:
- Surrey’s Locational Guideline requires that private liquor stores be located 400 m from children’s facilities (For example, schools, parks and playgrounds) as well as public libraries and recreation centres. It also requires private liquor stores not be located within 1 km of another private liquor store.
- Edmonton’s Zoning Bylaw requires a minimum separation distance of 500 m between alcohol outlets. In addition, bylaw prohibits alcohol outlets less than 100 m from any site being used for community or recreation activities (For example, community league buildings and facilities, and children’s playgrounds and play areas), public or private education or public lands.
- Fredericton’s Zoning Bylaw does not permit alcohol outlets within 300 m of a place of worship, school or in a building also used for residential purposes, with some exceptions.
- Calgary’s Land Use Bylaw does not permit liquor stores within 300 m of any other liquor stores, nor can they be located within 150 m of a school.
- Vancouver’s Liquor Store Guidelines indicate that no liquor store should be located within 150 m of a church, park, elementary or secondary school, community centre or neighbourhood house.
Local policy poolsc,d
- Land use and zoning bylaws
- Business license bylaws
- Fees bylaws
Examples of local actionc,d
Municipalities can strengthen zoning, land use or other by-laws to prohibit businesses that sell alcohol in a certain area.
Municipalities can also strengthen these bylaws to set limits on the number of licensed establishments allowed in a certain geographic area.
Municipalities can use licensing to require health impact assessments for every alcohol license application. Municipalities can evaluate these and contest those that could adversely impact a neighbourhood.
Municipalities can discourage introduction or expansion of U-Brew and U-Vin industries. Where they exist, licensing can be made contingent upon matching socially referenced prices for beverage alcohol in that jurisdiction.
1- World Cancer Research Fund International (2009). Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from: http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Policy_Report.pdf
2- World Health Organization (2013). Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases. Retrieved from:
3- Cancer Care Ontario (2016). Prevention System Quality Index. Retrieved from:https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/statistical-reports/prevention-system-quality-index
4- Public Health Ontario/Cancer Care Ontario (2012). Taking Action to Prevent Chronic Disease. Retrieved from: https://www.ccohealth.ca/en/report-taking-action-to-prevent-chronic-disease
a- Community Preventive Services Task Force (2009) Systematic Review: Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Maintaining Limits on Hours of Sale
b-Community Preventive Services Task Force (2007) Systematic Review: Alcohol – Excessive Consumption: Regulation of Alcohol Outlet Density
c- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (2013). Making the case for supporting local alcohol policy in Ontario
d- University of Victoria (2010). Helping Municipal Governments Reduce Alcohol-related Harms