As a musician and supporter of live music, I've had the opportunity to talk with owners and staff of a number of Kamloops pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants.
One issue that regularly comes up is the marked decrease in customer sales since the implementation of stricter drinking and driving laws in 2010. Businesses are facing a shrinking customer base and a substantial decrease in profits.
The problem is not the drinking and driving laws. We all agree on safer roads as a goal for our community. However, the City also has an obligation to support local business.
Patrons of businesses open into the evening don't have many options for transportation. Many people would love to go out to support live music, arts and cultural events, and sporting events. Many would like to socialize with friends, family, and co-workers, and to enjoy food and drink at licensed establishments.
However, Kamloopsians are stymied by a lack of choices for transportation, whether they drink alcohol or not.
Kamloops is a large city in area. The cost of a taxi to many neighbourhoods can be even more prohibitive than the cost of gasoline - sometimes in the $40-50 range. Choosing a designated driver in advance is wise, but not always a reality.
Often, faced with a lack of alternatives for transportation, drivers who are intoxicated opt to drive anyway, risking the lives everyone on the roadways. Many more people simply choose to stay at home.
Increasing service and hours for public transportation would improve consumer options for supporting local businesses and community events. Not only would this help stem the tide of profits flowing away from licensed establishments, it would increase the safety of our roads for everyone.
I strongly urge council to increase public transportation as a pro-business, safety-minded measure for our community, and to approve funding for late night transit services in Kamloops.