In November 2012, the District of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, adopted the new Business Licencing and Regulation Bylaw, including a section requiring establishments that serve or sell alcohol to post signage warning of the effects of prenatal alcohol exposure. The promotion of the bylaw has created awareness for people living with FASD, and more specifically supports families to abstain from alcohol throughout pregnancy as well as breastfeeding.
The prenatal alcohol exposure section of the Bylaw was developed by a standing committee of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Network called the Substance Misuse Prevention Committee. Though a separate bylaw requiring signage concerning the effects of alcohol use in pregnancy has been in effect since 1995, the standing committee worked to update the language and visuals of the initiative to meet current needs. The regulations are for the first time included in the Business Licencing and Regulation Bylaw to encourage more consistent adherence, as establishments are obliged to adhere to the new guidelines in order to maintain their business license.
The bylaw is expected to draw awareness to this public concern. Maple Ridge is a recognized as a provincial leader in proactively addressing concerns around the misuse of alcohol, and it is hoped that many other communities around the world will adopt similar bylaws.
The development committee noted that in the local community there appeared to be a general recognition that regular or binge drinking of alcohol in pregnancy is potentially harmful to the developing fetus. However, it was remarked that there was less awareness around the concerns of social drinking patterns. The decision was made to design the initiative around a shift in prevention campaign messages from “no known safe amount” to “no safe amount” in order to address this observed gap in education.
The key message of the initiative states “Any chance you might be pregnant? Zero alcohol. No safe time. No safe amount.” The phrase reinforces the importance of fully abstaining from alcohol throughout pregnancy, including social drinking patterns, as well as recognizing considerations around unplanned pregnancies where a woman might be consuming alcohol before realizing her pregnancy.
The image of a pregnant woman with the words “I’m here” on her belly was selected for its subtle visual reminder that a developing fetus is tangibly connected to its mother, and experiences the same dietary intake as does she. A symbolic representation of a ban on a variety of alcoholic beverages complements the imagery for patrons who have a lower literacy level or who are not fluent in the English language, as well as reinforcing the knowledge that all beverage types containing alcohol are equally concerning.
Committee members recognized that offering education without support carries a risk of harm, and chose to highlight community resources that are able to provide more information on the impacts of alcohol on the developing fetus, as well as where to access support for families who may be struggling with addictions and require support to reduce or abstain from alcohol consumption. The QR Code allows patrons to scan the image with their “smart” device, where they are linked to a website with additional bylaw information.
A poster was developed capturing the key messages, with the intention of having it displayed in each establishment in the community where alcoholic beverages are distributed. Stickers capturing the same message and branding imagery were also developed for placement on food and beverage menus with alcohol beverage options to ensure the highest visibility possible.
Business Licencing and Regulation Bylaw
For all licensed premises and U-Brews, the updated Business Licencing and Regulation Bylaw states:
A Business owner shall post signs warning of Prenatal Alcohol Exposure which shall be located in the following Premises and in the following locations:
(a) For any Licensed Premises which are permitted to sell alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption, there shall be at least one sign, located so it is clearly visible from all locations where the sale or dispensing of the alcoholic beverage takes place;
(b) For any Licensed Premises which permits the consumption of alcoholic beverages on the Premise, there shall be one sign conspicuously displayed in both the male and female washrooms located within the Premise, and at least one sign located so it is clearly visible from all locations where the sale or dispensing of the alcoholic beverage takes place;
(c) For any U-brew Premises, there shall be at least one sign, located so it is clearly visible from all locations where the sale of the supplies, prepackaged ingredients or equipment takes place;
(d) For any Licensed Premises, there shall be a Prenatal Alcohol Exposure warning placed on all menus…
Signs and stickers are required to meet the minimum requirements and the specific design as set out in the bylaw, including the minimum dimensions of 0.279 m by 0.432 m for the posters and 2.54 cm by 6.668 cm for the stickers. Designs must be as represented.
The development committee was fortunate to enjoy extensive support from a variety of stakeholders, including the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Network, the District of Maple Ridge, local establishment owners through the Bar Watch program, community agencies and the public. An initiative such as this cannot be successful without the engagement of interested parties, and considerable time must be spent in pursuit of such collaborations.
To celebrate the adoption of the updated bylaw, the development committee hosted a rollout event for local dignitaries, stakeholders, media and community members. The event was designed to recognize contributors and unveil the campaign, as well as provide education on FASD and the importance of preventing alcohol use in pregnancy and breastfeeding. A guest speaker living with FASD offered a powerful message on the disability, and spent time with community members sharing her knowledge on prevention and intervention techniques.
A community-based initiative is a prime opportunity to garner support from local business. A regional printing company was able to donate the production of the posters and provide the stickers at cost, which allowed the development committee to distribute an initial set of display items to establishments subject to the bylaw. A local grocer was able to donate food and refreshments for the rollout celebration, where establishment owners were present to publicly receive their display items and demonstrate their support of the initiative.
The development committee is appreciative for the success of the bylaw campaign in the district of Maple Ridge, and hopes to soon expand to the neighboring community of Pitt Meadows. Other municipalities throughout Canada and worldwide are encouraged to incorporate similar bylaws.
The following individuals and organizations are recognized for their valuable contributions to the initiative:
|Cheryl Ashlie, Maple Ridge Councillor
||Shawn Matthewson, District of Maple Ridge
|Bella Elphick, Fraser Health Authority
||Allison Pooley, The Asante Centre
|Darryl Lucas, Alouette Addictions Services
||Sue Wheeler, District of Maple Ridge
Additional Resources and Information
Download printable versions of the poster and sticker designs for the District of Maple Ridge!
Download a printable version of a brochure describing the development of the initiative!
Read a Maple Ridge News article on the bylaw rollout celebration!
Read the District of Maple Ridge Business Licencing and Regulation Bylaw!
Download revisable templates for the poster and sticker! Some images are copyrighted and may be purchased for use in other initiatives.