December 15, 2020
PRINCE ALBERT — The Prince Albert Community Alcohol Strategy Steering Committee (CASSC) is amping up its efforts to reduce impaired driving this holiday season after some initiatives were halted because of COVID-19.
The group has doubled its cab coupons this year, in partnership with SGI, the Northern Lights Community Development Corporation, Grey Cab and Checker & Family Taxi. This year, 400 $10 coupons will be available.
Even though holiday gatherings are restricted, CASSC coordinator Karen Anthony-Burns said people are still driving under the influence.
“There are still people that are out there. We’re hearing of impaired charges every week,” she said.
Anthony-Burns is also the treasurer of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Prince Albert chapter. She’s leading a local initiative where signs are placed at spots where police caught convicted impaired drivers.
“When you take these people off the road so that an impaired accident doesn’t occur, crash, and people aren’t injured and killed, you are impacting the community in a very positive way,” she said.
Last week, the Prince Albert Police Service distributed 200 of the coupons to licensed establishments. Anthony-Burns said they’ve created signs with a QR code giving access to coupons, which are available from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. until Jan. 31.
Anthony-Burns said the coupons are about more than saving money. Even if people choose not to take a cab, she hopes the coupons motivate them to stay overnight or have a designated driver.
“We just want to encourage everyone, make a plan before you go out, and we’re hoping that this will help people to make that plan.”
Operation Red Nose, in which volunteers drive people home in their own vehicles, is not offering rides this year. Wing in the New Year is also cancelled. The initiative is a partnership between SGI and the Cities of Saskatoon, Prince Albert, Regina and Moose Jaw to offer free transit on New Year’s Eve.
According to a media release from SGI, this is the first time Wing in the New Year has been suspended.
“As people are making their gatherings very small this year, keeping it in their homes, the service won’t be needed as much,” said Keri Sapsford, transportation manager for the City of Prince Albert.
However, transit in Prince Albert will be available throughout regular hours from 6:45 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. throughout the holiday season.
SGI doesn’t have impaired driving accident or fatality statistics for 2020 yet. The most recent monthly numbers show 437 impaired driving offences in October.
For the most part, impaired driving offences have increased throughout the year, with 284 in January.