Municipal Alcohol Policy
Approved By: City Council Category:
Approval Date: November 23, 2016
Effective Date: November 24, 2016
1. Policy Statement
The City of Ottawa requires that, when alcohol is to be sold, served or consumed at events held on City property or at locations or events under the City’s control, these activities are carried out in a safe and responsible manner.
The purpose of the Municipal Alcohol Policy (Policy) is to provide policy direction for the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol on City property or at locations or events under the City’s control.
This Policy applies to all City Staff, volunteers, community partners who either manage or have control over City property, rental clients, and organizers of events, on City property, at which alcohol will be sold, served or consumed.
This Policy applies to the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol on City property, or at locations or for events under the City’s control (collectively referred to as “City Property”), whether or not a facility is operating under a liquor licence issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), a Special Occasion Permit, a liquor licence with a Catering Endorsement, or any other approval that has been issued by the AGCO. City Property includes the following:
- All City-owned properties,
- All properties leased by the City,
- City Highways (including the travelled portion of the Highway (roadway), boulevards, sidewalks or other areas of the Highway),
- Properties controlled by local boards over which City Council may require that general policies be followed,
- Events held by the City at partner or third-party premises, and,
- City Properties under a Public-Private Partnership Agreement, as determined on a case-by-case basis by the General Manager of Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services
4. Policy Requirements
In all circumstances where an event is being held on City Property, the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol will comply with the requirements of the Liquor Licence Act and its related regulations, the requirements of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), and this Policy.
In addition to the necessary permits or approvals from the AGCO, permits and approvals from the relevant responsible Department, as set out herein and in accordance with the applicable by-laws, are required for an event at which alcohol is to be sold, served or consumed at City Properties, and such approval is subject to the requirements of this Policy.
4.1 General Conditions
For all events at which alcohol will be sold, served or consumed on City Property, Sponsors must ensure that the following General Conditions are met:
- The Sponsor must obtain a permit for the use of the property or facility at which the event is to take place from the City Department having operational jurisdiction over the property or facility, or having responsibility for the event if it is occurring on third party property. The Sponsor must provide, at his or her cost, information to that City Department in support of the application for such permit. The permit must specify the date, duration, nature, purpose and expected attendance at the event, as well as any other details of the event that may be required by the City Department to determine if the event meets the requirements of this Policy and for the proper management by the City of its property.
- The sale, serving and consumption of alcohol may take place only on property of the City identified in Section 3 of this Policy, and under the conditions outlined in this Policy.
- In order to hold an event with alcohol on City Property, the Sponsor must obtain a Special Occasion Permit (SOP) or have a Catering Endorsement for the event from the AGCO, or other approval issued by the AGCO, and must, at all times during the event, comply with applicable regulations, processes and best practices of the AGCO, including those relating to Smart Serve Guidelines.
- The Sponsor must obtain and maintain for the duration of the event appropriate insurance in the form of Commercial General Liability Insurance subject to limits of not less than Two Million Dollars ($2,000,000) inclusive per occurrence, or as otherwise prescribed by the General Manager of the Department having operational jurisdiction over the property or facility at which the event is taking place with the concurrence of the City Solicitor, and such insurance must name the City as additional insured.
- The Sponsor must comply with the “Sponsor Responsibilities” as outlined in this Policy.
- During events at which alcohol is to be sold, served or consumed, a bilingual sign with wording including the following information shall be displayed in a prominent location immediately within each licensed area where alcohol is to be sold, served, consumed or distributed in any manner:
- servers are prohibited from serving alcohol to:
- participants under 19 years of age
- intoxicated persons, and
- anyone who appears to be at the point of intoxication, and
- ask your server about safe transportation options
- servers are prohibited from serving alcohol to:
- The Sponsor must ensure that the original SOP, or liquor licence with a Catering Endorsement, or any other approval obtained from the AGCO, is posted in a conspicuous location in the licensed/server area or must keep it in a place where it is readily available for inspection, for the duration of the event.
- The event must comply with all applicable federal and provincial laws and regulations, and applicable municipal by-laws.
4.2 Indoor Events
For events occurring indoors on City Property, the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol is permitted only in municipal buildings and areas approved by the General Manager of the Department having jurisdiction over the facility.
4.3 Outdoor Events
Events occurring outdoors on City Property must meet the following additional conditions:
- Events on Highways at which alcohol is to be sold, served or consumed are permitted only under the following circumstances:
- A special event on a closed Highway where establishments licensed by the AGCO receive approval from the AGCO to establish or extend a patio onto the closed street, as noted in Appendix A, Site Plan 1, for reference/example purposes only; or,
- A special event on a closed Highway with an enclosed area licensed by the AGCO to sell and allow the consumption of alcohol by SOP, issued to a charity or AGCO-recognized non-profit organization, as noted in Appendix A, Site Plan 2, for reference/example purposes only.
- For either 1a) or 1b), the Sponsor must obtain a Road Closure Permit and comply with all conditions associated with the permit as prescribed by the General Manager of Transportation Services in accordance with the Special Events on City Streets By-law (2001-260, as amended).
- In accordance with the Special Events on City Streets By-law (2001-260, as amended), the General Manager of Transportation Services shall determine on which Highways events with alcohol may be held, and site plan types other than those noted above in 1a) and 1b) will not be considered.
- Events at which alcohol is to be sold, served or consumed, occurring outdoors on municipal properties, other than Highways, are permitted only under the following circumstances:
- The area licensed to sell or permit the consumption of alcohol by SOP or other approval from the AGCO, which is issued to a charity or AGCO recognized non-profit organization, is enclosed, as noted in Appendix A, Site Plan 3, for reference/example purposes only; or,
- An event at which only a small portion of the entire event area (example: tent) is enclosed and licensed to sell or permit the consumption of alcohol by SOP or other approval from the AGCO, which is issued to a charity or AGCO recognized non-profit organization, as noted in Appendix A, Site Plan 4, for reference/example purposes only.
- The above-noted events may take place only in City parks, cultural properties and waterfront parks, or on City owned administrative sites, in areas approved by the General Manager of Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services. The Sponsor must obtain the appropriate permits under the Parks and Facilities By-law (2004-276, as amended) and the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law (2013-232, as amended), the latter where there are 500 or more attendees expected, and comply with any conditions imposed under those permits.
- The City will not permit the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol where existing liquor license holders (i.e. bars and restaurants) apply to establish or extend an outdoor patio and apply jointly with a charity or AGCO recognised non-profit for an SOP or other approval from the AGCO to allow patrons having servings of alcohol to leave the bar and patio area and circulate openly on the street. This stipulation also applies to designated municipally-significant events.
- For an outdoor event occurring on City Property that is not a Highway and where the expected attendance is 500 persons or more, the Sponsor shall comply with the Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law (2013-232, as amended), including obtaining the approval of the City’s Special Event Advisory Team (SEAT).
- The Sponsor must, at his or her own cost, provide appropriate documentation and information to the General Manager of the Department having operational jurisdiction over the property on which the event is to take place, such as drawings or plans showing details of areas for the sale, serving and consumption of alcohol, and must ensure that the event in question conforms to the information provided in such drawings or plans as approved by the General Manager in question.
5.1 City of Ottawa
The General Manager of the Department having jurisdiction over the City Property has the authority to permit the use of City Property for an event at which alcohol will be sold, served or consumed, in accordance with this Policy and applicable by-laws.
In addition, such General Manager may require immediate correction and/or the termination of an event on behalf of the City of Ottawa for reasons outlined in this Policy. This may include the right to revoke a permit to hold an event or prohibit the sale, serving or consumption of alcohol at an event on City Property, as more specifically set out in the rental or facilities permit or agreement for the event on City Property. Generally, a permit may be revoked and an event may be terminated by the City when:
- the Sponsor does not comply with the terms and conditions of this Policy, the facility use permit issued for the event, and/or related City of Ottawa policies and procedures;
- the Sponsor fails to conduct activities in a manner acceptable to the City and concerns for public interest or public safety arise; or
- the City becomes aware that the Sponsor espouses or promotes, or the event in question promotes or communicates, views, ideas or presentations which are likely to discriminate or harass any person contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Human Rights Act, or the Occupational Health and Safety Act, including but not limited to discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, age, record of offences, marital status, family status, sex, handicap, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
The Sponsor shall conclude and sign documentation required by the City to confirm that the Sponsor has received, read, understood, and has undertaken to comply with this Policy and the controls set out below.
Unless otherwise approved by the General Manager of the Department having jurisdiction over the property, the controls shall include the following:
- Prior to obtaining an SOP or other approval from the AGCO, the Sponsor shall confirm with the appropriate City representative that the premises are available for rent on the date required and that the City will allow an SOP or other AGCO-approved event at that location.
- The Sponsor must obtain an SOP or Catering Endorsement or other approval from the AGCO and must show proof of this to City staff prior to the event. Failure to provide this documentation will result in the Sponsor not being permitted to sell or serve alcohol at the event.
- All alcohol permitted on the site must be purchased or approved under the SOP or other application to the AGCO. Substitute or supplementary alcohol is not permitted.
- Acceptable forms of identification for proof of age, which include a photo, are: an Ontario Driver´s Licence (or any Canadian Driver’s Licence); a Canadian Passport; a Canadian Citizenship Card; a Canadian Armed Forces Identification Card; a photo card issued by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), entitled Bring Your ID (BYID); a Secure Indian Status Card issued by the Government of Canada; a Permanent Resident Card issued by the Government of Canada; a photo card issued under the Photo Card Act, 2008. Such identification shall be inspected before admitting and serving a person who appears to be under the age of 25.
- The Sponsor or designate, must attend the event for the entire duration, including the post event clean up, and be responsible for making decisions regarding the operation of the event and safe transportation.
- The Sponsor or designate, and event workers shall remain sober during the entire event.
- The Sponsor shall permit City staff to enter the event at all times.
- The Sponsor, event worker or City staff, if present, must ensure the physical setting is safe for all attendees. All exits must be kept clear of obstruction.
- Should the Sponsor, event worker or City staff become aware of a situation that could lead to injury or property damage, they must take immediate action to prevent patrons from engaging in activities or conduct that is drunkenness or riotous, quarrelsome, violent or disorderly which could harm themselves or others, or could result in property damage.
- The Sponsor will be available upon request to event workers who require assistance in managing a person who is refused a sale or who becomes unmanageable.
- The Sponsor shall ensure alcohol that is sold, served or consumed on the premises is not removed from the licensed area, or brought into a prohibited area, by a person attending the event.
- All beverage containers must be retained within the licensed area. All beverages must be served in unbreakable cups except for formal dinners and catered events and events held in a restaurant.
- The serving of alcohol will cease no later than the hour specified on the SOP, Catering Endorsement or Licence or other approval from the AGCO.
- The Sponsor must comply with: the Liquor Licence Act; the City of Ottawa Municipal Alcohol Policy; Standards, Policies and Procedures, General Terms and Conditions of the Rental Agreement; City by-laws including the Noise By-law, Parks and Facilities By-law, Smoking and Vaping By-law, Special Event on City Streets By-law, and Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law, as well as Federal, Provincial legislation and regulations (including Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017) that apply to the use of the premises and to the holding of the event.
- The Sponsor shall not permit persons to enter the premises who are or appear to be intoxicated or whose presence could result in the room or venue capacity to be exceeded.
- Where the event becomes an uncontrolled situation and the instigator or instigators refuse to leave, the Sponsor, designate, event worker or City staff/Community Partner will:
- ask the person(s) to leave; and
- if the individual(s) refuses to leave, call the Police.
Non-compliance with the terms and conditions of this Policy for one or more events may result in the refusal or revocation of permission to use City Property. In addition, contraventions of by-laws, including non-compliance with applicable permit requirements, may also result in the imposition of fines. Other consequences of non-compliance may include:
- Loss of the entire deposit, or a portion thereof, as set out in the applicable rental agreement or permit;
- Payment for corrective action, additional costs or damages;
- Suspension, for a specific period, including on a long-term or indefinite basis, from booking City Property for events, as may be determined by the General Manager of the Department having operational jurisdiction over the property;
- Deposit amounts can be increased for future uses of City Property at the discretion of the City.
7. Legislative and Administrative Authorities
Liquor Licence Act
Parks and Facilities By-law
Public Places By-law
Smoke Free Ontario Act
Special Events on City Streets By-law
Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law
Highway: Includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct, or trestle under the jurisdiction of the City, any part of which is intended for, or used by, the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof
Roadway: That part of the Highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular traffic, but does not include the shoulder, and, where a highway includes two or more separate roadways, the term “roadway” refers to any one roadway separately and not to all of the roadways collectively
Sidewalk: Those parts of a Highway set aside by the City for the use of pedestrians
Special Occasion Permit (SOP): a permit issued by the AGCO as required under the Liquor Licence Act, that is needed any time alcohol is offered for sale, served or consumed anywhere other than in a licensed establishment or a private place. SOPs are for occasional, special events only, and not for personal profit or running an on-going business.
Sponsor: Any person 19 years of age or over who has applied to obtain and has been granted permission to hold an event involving the sale or consumption of alcohol on premises as defined in this Policy.
9. Policy Amendments
- The General Manager of the Department having operational jurisdiction over the property, shall have authority to approve the use of City Property for events for which minor deviations to this Policy are required where such deviations are based on technical grounds, on an event-by-event basis.
- Authority to approve minor amendments to this Policy is delegated individually to the General Managers of Emergency and Protective Services; Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services; and/or Transportation Services, for reasons of public safety.
- Major amendments to this Policy will be recommended to City Council for consideration.
10. Keyword Search
Special Occasion Permit
For more information on this Policy, contact:
- General Manager, Emergency and Protective Services
- General Manager, Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services
- General Manager, Transportation Services
A guide to serving alcohol at your event
When enjoyed in moderation by adults, alcohol should not be a problem. However, if consumed to excess, alcohol can lead to health issues, disruptive behaviour and dangerous situations.
You have a responsibility to ensure the health and safety of guests at events you host on City property. If you’re holding an event on City property, particularly one where alcohol is being consumed and/or served, you are required to take the necessary steps to ensure that your event is safe for all involved. For example, when you apply for a Special Occasion Permit or the new Tailgate Event Special Occasion Permit (which allows patrons to bring their own alcohol) with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, you agree to be held legally responsible for the safety and sobriety of your guests. As the Sponsor, you and your group can be held liable for injuries and damages arising from failure to follow the Liquor License Act of Ontario. Under the Liquor License Act of Ontario, you can be fined if you serve someone to intoxication, serve someone who is already intoxicated, serve someone underage, or fail to prevent impaired individuals from driving. Event organizers are also required to comply with the City’s Municipal Alcohol Policy, with provisions as set out in this guide.
The purpose of this guide is to provide you with information and tips to help you execute your event safely. A safe event is where event hosts ensure that there is no intoxication, disorderly conduct or promotion of immoderate consumption and that patrons less than 19 years of age are not consuming alcohol. Harms from alcohol can include injuries, violence, property damage, drunk driving, verbal abuse and fights.
Did you know?
Combining alcohol with caffeinated beverages, cannabis and/or other drugs can lead to higher risks of intoxication and overdose.
Every year in Ottawa, irresponsible alcohol use leads to:
- 6,100 emergency room visits
- 2,060 paramedic responses
- 1,270 hospitalizations
- 140 deaths
- Facts from Ottawa Public Health: Status of Alcohol in Ottawa report, 2016
What steps do I need to take before I can serve alcohol at a City facility?
- A suitable venue: Confirm with a City representative that the City facility you want to rent allows alcohol to be served. Obtain a signed contract with the City for the event space.
- A license/permit to serve alcohol: You will need to apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for an Special Occasion Permit. All alcohol permitted on site must be purchased and approved under your Special Occasion Permit. If you are using a Catering Endorsement, the licensee is required to obtain approvals from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. You must submit and manage Special Occasion Permit applications through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario online portal.
Municipal significance: If the event is open to the public and the applicant is neither a registered charity nor non-profit organization, a resolution designating the event as municipally significant is required to obtain an Special Occasion Permit. Please contact the City’s Event Central Unit at email@example.com for more information.
Important: Plan ahead. Check with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to confirm the deadline to submit your Special Occasion Permit application and to ensure that you can get your permit in time for your event. Failure to obtain and provide this documentation on time will result in you not being permitted to serve alcohol at your event.
60 days prior – attendance over 300 persons
30 days prior – attendance between 100 to 300 persons
10 days prior – attendance under 100 person
- Insurance requirements: You must arrange and maintain third party liability insurance coverage. The City’s insurance requirements can be confirmed with the City representative for the City facility you want to rent.
- Trained servers and monitors: All individuals involved in the sale, service, or sampling of alcohol or who are involved in taking orders for alcohol from customers must complete the Smart Serve Certification Training Program. The Sponsor must ensure that all event workers are 19 years of age and over and are easily identifiable, example: name tags, shirts or uniforms, etc. Door and entrance monitors are encouraged to monitor the door before and after the event.
- Proper notice: For outdoor events, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will require the Special Occasion Permit applicant to provide notification to local authorities such as police, fire, building and public health departments. To notify the municipality 30 days before the event that you will be serving alcohol outdoors, please complete and submit the online notification form.
- Completed booking: Finally, complete, sign and return the attached Acknowledgement Statement to the City of Ottawa representative responsible for the facility/premises you are booking for your event.
What are my responsibilities as the Sponsor?
- As the Sponsor, you are the host of the event and are either the Special Occasion Permit permit holder or the “responsible person” designated in the Special Occasion Permit issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
- You and your event workers must be present at the event and remain sober for the entire duration, including the post event clean-up.
- You are responsible for making decisions regarding the safe operation of the event and safe transportation options for attendees.
- You must ensure that the original Special Occasion Permit obtained from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission is either posted in a clear location in the licensed/service area or readily available for inspection during the event.
- The Alcohol and Gaming Commission requires you to post in a prominent location immediately within each licensed area where alcohol is to be sold, served, consumed or distributed in any manner, a bilingual sign with wording including the following information:
- servers are prohibited from serving alcohol to:
- anyone under 19 years of age
- intoxicated persons, and
- anyone who appears to be at the point of intoxication.
- ask your server about safe transportation options.
- servers are prohibited from serving alcohol to:
- Make sure that your event workers check identification before serving to a person who appears under the age of 25
- Acceptable forms of identification that include a photo are: Bring Your ID Card issued by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario; valid Driver's Licence; Canadian Armed Forces ID Card; Canadian Citizenship Card; Canadian passport; a permanent resident card issued by the Government of Canada; a Secure Indian Status Card issued by the Government of Canada; or, a photo card issued under the Photo Card Act, 2008.
- Persons under the legal drinking age of 19 may not consume alcohol on City property.
- You must arrange for and maintain third party liability insurance coverage. The City’s insurance requirements can be confirmed with the City representative for the City facility you want to rent. The City of Ottawa administers an affordable third-party liability insurance program that you can purchase directly from your City representative.
- All alcohol permitted on the site must be purchased or approved under the Special Occasion Permit issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. Substitute or supplementary alcohol is not permitted.
- You must permit City staff to enter the event at all times.
- You must ensure that your marketing for the event does not:
- Advertise alcohol or the availability of alcohol without following the Registrar’s Advertising Guidelines, as outlined under section 7(2) Regulation 389/91 of the Liquor License Act of Ontario for further information.
- Encourage increased or immoderate consumption of alcohol; in particular, oversized drinks, double shots of spirits, drinking contests, liquor raffles and volume discounts are not permitted under the Liquor License Act of Ontario.
- You may not provide free alcohol for promotional purposes without prior approval from the City and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
- The serving of alcohol must cease no later than the hour specified on the Special Occasion Permit or Catering Endorsement issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
- You must comply with: the Liquor Licence Act; the City of Ottawa Municipal Alcohol Policy; City standards, policies and procedures, General Terms and Conditions of the Rental Agreement; City by-laws including the Noise By-law, Parks and Facilities By-law, Smoke Free Public Places By-law, Special Event on City Streets By-law, and Special Events on Public and Private Property By-law, as well as Federal, Provincial legislation and regulations (including Smoke Free Ontario Act) that apply to the use of the premises and to the holding of the event.
- It is important to note that guests are not allowed to bring their own alcohol under a Special Occasion Permit, with the exception of a Tailgate Event Special Occasion Permit.
Running a safe event
Here are some helpful tips to keep your event safe and fun.
Before the event
- Check your site plan to ensure that the environment is safe for drinkers and non-drinkers. Exits must be kept clear of obstructions at all times, be clearly marked and well lit. If there is fencing, make sure that emergency exit security or volunteers are responsible for opening them in the event of an emergency.
- Determine the capacity of the licensed area
- Capacity = available area divided by 1.1 square meters or 12 square feet per person
- Develop an Alcohol Management Plan to manage the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s “Big Five” issues
- Minors – how underage drinking is prevented, hand-offs monitored, etc.
- Intoxicated persons – how will you manage overserving? How will you make sure everyone gets home safely?
- Violent and disorderly behaviour – If one of your guests becomes disruptive or violent, what will you do?
- Serving after hours
- Talk over your Alcohol Management Plan with your event workers to make sure everyone is comfortable.
- Use unbreakable cups to avoid injury.
During the event
- Use your Alcohol Management Plan. Adopt a preventative approach to enforcing the rules.
- Make sure that alcohol and any alcohol containers stay in licensed areas on the premises.
- Make sure that you are visible and available to help event workers manage issues with guests.
- If you become aware of a situation that could lead to injury or property damage, act immediately to prevent such occurrence.
- Control access to your event. Do not admit anyone who is or appears to be intoxicated, or who you believe will be disruptive.
- Control your capacity. It is your responsibility to know the capacity of the licensed area and have procedures in place to ensure that number is not exceeded.
- Watch for drink tampering and anyone who may show signs of having been drugged.
- If one of your guests acts in a threatening or disruptive manner, speak to them immediately and ask them to leave. If the person refuses to leave, contact the Police.
After the event
- It is not permitted to allow ‘last call’ announcements that advise guests the bar is about to close.
- It is your responsibility to make sure that your guests get home safely. You must remain on the premises until all your guests have left by a safe and satisfactory means of transportation.
- Safe transportation options may include:
- A designated driver strategy. Your strategy should include information such as the names of the person(s) that will use a personal vehicle to drive impaired participants to a place of safety;
- Encouraging guests to use taxis, Uber, Lyft, private transportation companies, public transit, or other forms of alternate transportation;
- Calling a friend, relative, or ridesharing to assist.
- As per Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario guidelines, if one of your guests requires transportation to get home safely, you are responsible for the cost.
- If a guest is intoxicated and cannot be prevented from driving, take immediate action and call the Police and request that the intoxicated guest be apprehended to ensure they do not drive a vehicle while intoxicated.
In May 2019, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario began accepting applications for a new type of Special Occasion Permit for Tailgate Events. The primary feature of this Special Occasion Permit is that patrons must be permitted to bring and consume their own alcoholic beverages. Tailgate Events will be held at ground level, outdoors, and in close proximity to a live professional, semi-professional, or post-secondary sporting event. These events may be hosted on private or public property with approval from the property owner or municipality, respectively. Event hosts may choose to sell and serve alcohol within designated areas.
Did you know?
In Ottawa between 2010 to 2014, there were 28 deadly alcohol-related collisions - nearly a quarter of all fatal motor vehicle collisions during that time involved alcohol
- Facts from Ottawa Public Health: Status of Alcohol in Ottawa report, 2016
Promoting low-risk drinking
Low-risk drinking means that alcohol is consumed in a way that is responsible and safe. Responsible drinking means consciously choosing how much, when, and where to drink.
Canada has national Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines that provide advice on how to lower the long-term health risk and immediate risk of injury. As a sponsor of an event where alcohol is served, you can promote low risk drinking by:
- Serving only standard size drinks of alcohol. The City supports serving ‘standard drink’ sizes to help your guests manage their consumption responsibly. For these guidelines, "a drink" means:
- Beer: 341 ml (12 oz.), 5% alcohol content
- Cider/Cooler: 341 ml (12 oz.), 5% alcohol content
- Wine: 142 ml (5 oz.), 12% alcohol content
- Distilled alcohol: 43 ml (1.5 oz.), 40% alcohol content
- Educating your guests on responsible alcohol consumption by posting signs with tips such as:
- Drink slowly – have no more than 2 drinks in any 3 hours.
- For every drink of alcohol have one non-alcoholic drink.
- Eat before and while you are drinking.
- Making non-alcoholic beverages readily available. For example, provide free pitchers of water or low-cost options like juice or pop.
- Providing low-alcohol beverage options to help control and prevent intoxication.
- Many alcohol products contain higher alcohol content than a ‘standard drink’. For example, a tall can (473 mL, 16 oz.) of beer with 7% alcohol is two standard drinks. Sponsors and servers are strongly discouraged from serving larger sized and higher percentage alcohol products.
- Some products have a greater alcoholic content and may contain more than one standard drink. Patrons must be made aware that these products will lead to accelerated adverse alcohol effects on the body.
- Check the alcohol content and size before serving.
- Discouraging excessive or “binge” drinking by limiting the number of drinks available to each guest:
- If alcohol beverage tickets are sold, set a maximum of five tickets per person.
- Allow guests to redeem their unused tickets for cash at any time during the event.
- Limit the number of free drinks provided to guests during an open bar.
- Do not sell a guest more than two drinks at a time.
Did you know?
- Low-risk drinking on special occasions equals 4 or less drinks for men and 3 or less drinks for women
- If you drink more than that on a single occasion it's considered binge drinking
- Binge drinking causes most of the harms from alcohol
"Drink" means a standard drink as per the low-risk alcohol drinking guidelines
Don’t forget the food!
Serving food is one of the best ways to lower the risk of becoming intoxicated. Offer food throughout the event, rather than just a buffet at midnight. Pizza slices, sandwiches, soups, vegetable dishes, cheeses, hot dogs or hamburgers are considered substantial food types. Snacks such as chips, pretzels, and peanuts are not considered substantial and their saltiness could actually increase consumption of alcohol.
Your Special Occasion Permit will determine when you must stop serving alcohol. Once that time arrives, you have forty-five minutes to conceal or remove all evidence of the service and consumption of alcohol or, if the bar set-up is permanent, to clear guests from the room.
When enjoyed in moderation by responsible adults, alcohol should be not a problem. By planning ahead, promoting safe drinking and following the tips in this guide, you are well on your way to hosting a safe and responsible event.
To obtain a paper copy of this guide, please visit your nearest Recreation Facility.
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission
- Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Smart Serve Ontario
- Special Events on Public and Private Property By-Law No. 2013-232
- Noise By-law (By-law No. 2017-255)
- Smoking and Vaping (By-law No. 2019-241)
- Parks and Facilities (By-law No. 2004-276)
For more information, please email RCFS/DGLCIrisk@ottawa.ca
I, the Sponsor for the described Special Occasion Permit understand that as the Permit Holder, I, or my group, can be held liable for injuries and damages arising from failure to adhere to the Liquor Licence Act of Ontario, the City of Ottawa Municipal Alcohol Policy, and the terms and conditions of the Permit. These infractions include, but are not limited to, serving someone to the point of intoxication, serving someone who is already intoxicated, serving minors, and failing to prevent impaired individuals from driving. I acknowledge, by signing this form, that the Guide, provided to me by the City of Ottawa has been received, read and understood and I agree to strictly observe and ensure compliance with the requirements and controls detailed in the Guide, and applicable laws and policies.
Release of liability, waiver of claims and assumption of risks and indemnity agreement
Please read carefully before signing, and then submit this completed signed Acknowledgement Statement form to the City of Ottawa representative responsible for the facility/premises you are booking.
I, the Sponsor of the following described event,
Date of Event:
shall indemnify and save harmless the City of Ottawa, its employees, agents, etc. from any and all claims, demands, causes of action, loss, costs or damages that the City of Ottawa may suffer, incur or be liable for, resulting from the Event or the, actions, negligent acts or omissions, in connection with the holding of the described event involving the serving of alcohol on City premises.
I agree to comply with the regulations of the Liquor Licence Act, to abide by the City of Ottawa Municipal Alcohol Policy, Standards, Policies and Procedures, General Terms and Conditions of the Rental Agreement, City By-laws including but not limited to the Smoking By-law and Noise By-law and Federal, Provincial and Municipal laws that apply to the use of the premises and holding of the described event.
I am 19 years of age or older. I am aware of the nature and effect of the release of liability, waiver of claims and assumption of risks and indemnity agreement that i am signing. I am executing this Release and Waiver of Liability Agreement freely and without any compulsion on the part of the City of Ottawa. I acknowledge to having read this entire Acknowledgement Statement prior to having signed it. Intending to be legally bound, I have signed this release of liability, waiver of claims and assumption of risks and indemnity agreement this _______ day of ____________________ 20____.
Sponsor, please print your name:
Signature of Sponsor:
Sponsor’s mailing address:
Sponsor’s telephone number:
Signature of witness dated:
Personal information contained on this form is collected under the Authority of the Municipal Act. RSO1990, cM.45, s.207 (45). This information is collected for the administration and management of the City of Ottawa Municipal Alcohol Policy and Risk Management Program. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.