FROM THE FILES OF THE BRANDON SUN
The debate over holiday hours continued late this week after Premier Brian Pallister said the province is looking into giving municipalities the ability the choose what businesses can be open on holidays.
Municipal officials in Brandon welcomed the conversation but stopped short of calling it necessary.
The premier said Thursday he agrees with critics who say the current rules on holiday shopping are inconsistent.
“I know there’s discussion going on right now at various levels in the government … about this issue,” Pallister told reporters. “In my view, this would be a decision best made by municipalities in their areas of jurisdiction.”
Brandon Mayor Rick Chrest said that as far as he knows, the premier has yet to reach out officially to municipalities or the Association of Manitoba Municipalities to discuss the topic.
“We’d welcome (having) that discussion with the premier or one of the ministers to see where they want to go on that,” Chrest said.
“It would occur to me that maybe the stat holidays might fall under a similar framework as the Sunday closing hours, and naturally I think we would be interested in having consultation in our own community and our own business community and see what the will of our community is.”
Chrest added the issue of holiday hours had not been brought up with the city recently as an issue.
“I think from a municipal standpoint, any time we’re given a level of autonomy is a good thing,” said Coun. Shaun Cameron (University). “I think ultimately we’re able to consult with our folks locally and hopefully make an informed decision on whether businesses should stay open or whether that bylaw would change.”
Association of Manitoba Municipalities president Ralph Groening told The Sun on the phone from Kelowna, B.C. that he’s glad the province is open to consulting with municipalities on the issue.
“Our position has always been that we’re a mature level of government and that we want to be consulted, but that we want to be able to make our own decisions,” Groening said. “I think that municipalities generally appreciate the ability to manage decisions that impact their residents, and I think this announcement would offer that opportunity.”
The Brandon Chamber of Commerce as well as Brandon economic development director Sandy Trudel told The Sun earlier this week that no Brandon businesses had raised holiday hours as a problem recently.
As the legislature is unlikely to be recalled before the September provincial election, it would be up to the next government to move forward on the issue.
» firstname.lastname@example.org, with files from the Winnipeg Free Press
» Twitter: @ColinSlark