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Plebiscite vote could allow liquor sales in Cardston, Alta.

Cardston, Alta., residents voted 53 per cent in favour of a proposal to allow liquor sales in the town at this week's general election. (Pexels) Cardston, Alta., residents voted 53 per cent in favour of a proposal to allow liquor sales in the town at this week's general election. (Pexels)

Results from a plebiscite question included on ballots in Cardston, Alta., could soon overturn the community's 100-year-old ban on liquor sales.

In 1923, the southern Alberta community, which has a population of approximately 3,600 people, voted to prohibit the sale of booze.

For Monday's general election, its residents were asked if they agreed with the idea, provided it only took place at licenced restaurants, the golf course and Cardston's Agridome.

The town said, of 925 eligible electors, 494 responded "yes" and 431 responded "no."

The results came as a shock to some business owners in the town.

"My first reaction was surprise," said Tanner Leavitt, owner of Cardston's Guero Taco. "I don't know if I was expecting a majority to vote the way they did, just based on the last plebiscite they did in 2014 and from the reaction of the town prior, the vocal ones on Facebook."

The town's business community is largely behind the move, with the Cardston & District Chamber of Commerce! Cardston and District saying in a statement that the vote "solidifies the voices" in the community.

"People of Cardston are ready for change."

Ivan Negrych, owner of the Cobblestone Manor, shares a similar belief.

"It was about 80 percent who voted 'yes' from the businesses, so that's a positive, and I think it would be good for the town – with the tourism season just starting – for the golf course and for the agridome and for the restaurants in town."  

However, a lot more work needs to be done before any changes are made.

"This purpose of this vote was to help better inform council what the public opinion on the matter is," the town said in a statement.

"It will not however bind council in their decision making; it was a method of information gathering only. Council has not decided what the outcome of the vote will determine."

The next steps include a public hearing to consult with residents affected by the proposed bylaw.

If it's approved, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis will forward a new liquor licence application to Cardston's town council.

"After all final approvals have been given for that application, the town will no longer be a municipality without licenced premises," the town said.

Ending prohibition will also face opposition from much of the town as nearly half oppose the bylaw change.

"I definitely understand where they're coming from, and I don't want to step on any toes, I share the same faith in town here, I don't drink alcohol myself," Leavitt said.

The proposal would not allow for liquor stores to be opened in the town.

Cardston last voted on the idea in 2014 and it was defeated. Less than 25 per cent of voters were in favour.

Additional information about Cardston's proposed liquor sales bylaw can be found online.

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