Notice a bar is serving alcohol to minors or someone is smoking in a bar or a restaurant? Or perhaps the fire exits are blocked? A multi-agency group called the Public Safety Compliance Team (PSCT) addresses these kinds of complaints.
According to the city website, “The Public Safety Compliance Team (PSCT) is the regulatory and enforcement arm of the City of Edmonton’s Responsible Hospitality Edmonton initiative that promotes education, prevention, and is enforcement-based.” The team consists of Edmonton Police Service, Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, City of Edmonton Community Standards Branch, and Edmonton Fire Rescue.
Chantel Perizzolo, supervisor of PSCT, said reportable issues range anywhere from noise complaints, to untidiness to an unlicensed business.
“Obviously, you’re not going to report a restaurant if you don’t like the food or service,” said Sgt. Colin Simpson, PSCT’s team lead. While reasons to report a business are dependent on the situation, Simpson explained the team “was originally designed to maintain regulatory checks on businesses.” He said a collaborative effort can resolve issues more quickly.
In addition to responding to complaints, the team also conducts scheduled and unscheduled inspections of new bars and restaurants to ensure they’re following legislation, standards, and regulations.
“Everyone on the team has their own lens on how they look at it,” said Perizzolo. For example, City of Edmonton Community Standards looks at municipal bylaws, like noise, waste management, or zoning issues, while EPS looks at crime and provides services such as looking at security plans. Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission ensures businesses follow legislation and policies, and Edmonton Fire Rescue deals with fire prevention and fire code compliance.
In terms of bylaws, Perizzolo explained things like general tidiness is important, and business owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks, disposing of litter, bottles, or pallets, and painting over graffiti.
In regards to food safety, Alberta Health Services (AHS) perform unannounced inspections, but people can call 311 or reach AHS directly if they have concerns.
File a complaint by calling 311 and refer the complaint to PSCT to follow up. To track the complaint, ask 311 for a file number or track by business location.
“If it requires AHS we can contact AHS; but 311 will not,” said Perizzolo.
“311 is the hub. If you’re not sure where your complaint should go, that’s your best bet,” said Simpson, and explained calls are directed to the proper person. For example, if it’s a noise complaint, bylaw officers or police will handle it.
“We meet regularly to find out which complaints have come across our desk,” said Simpson. “Then the particular agency puts that place on their list of inspections.”
When the team receives a complaint, they talk to the business owner.
“The first portion is education, try to give the venue information,” said Simpson. “If it’s determined to be a problem, then give educative steps or support to remedy the situation.”
After that, the team follows up to ensure the business has followed recommended steps. If that hasn’t happened, consequences can vary from a simple ticket to a loss of a license.
Perizzolo said the team’s focus is “is on education, prevention and support for alcohol sale venues to operate in a safe and responsible manner. We also operate as the link between citizens and the business. Enforcement action is a last resort as our goal is to work with the businesses to ensure that all regulations are being complied with.”
WHO TO CALL
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Complaint Line: 1.800.742.7818
Restaurant inspections: albertahealthservices.ca/eph/Page3149.aspx
Featured Image: The Public Safety Compliance Team helps educate businesses and enforces regulations when necessary. | Pixabay