Provo, UTAH - As expected, a majority of Provo city councilors voted to allow beer sales in private stores on Sundays. It formally ends a debate about recognizing the city’s evolving diversity and protecting residents’ personal freedoms versus continuing to permit the values of a conservative majority. Most residents in Provo practice the Mormon faith, which forbids consumption of alcohol.
Some Provo residents see their town as a moral and spiritual bright spot that they did not want sullied by alcohol sales on traditional their day of worship - even if that were to mean Provo stayed different from neighboring Utah county communities which have enacted Sunday beer sales.
Resident Jenny Lawton told council, “That’s always their (proponents’) argument, that the (now former) ordinance is quirky. Well, I want to be considered funny and quirky if that what it takes to not have this ordinance repealed.”
But for others, and the majority on council, the city’s growing diverse population needs to be served and their freedoms left intact.
Said resident BJ Cluff ,“ I want to live in a city where there is all kinds of diversity. And just because someone wants a drink on Sunday, doesn’t make them an alcoholic.”
Until the change, Provo residents who wanted to buy beer on Sunday had to travel several miles to the next town, such as Springville. Local grocery and convenience store owners, who brought the complaint to council said they were losing business to such neighboring communities.
But most on council said the economic arguments were not the main reason they were voting for the repeal. Instead they cited the right of all citizens to buy a legal product when ever they desire it. Indeed, increased tax revenues from Sunday beer sales are expected to be minimal in Provo.
A Utah county health official argued the Sunday ban reduced the chance of alcohol-related crimes and accidents. But in the end the six-person council, with the exception of member Cynthia Dayton, disagreed. The revised ordinance will take effect in a few weeks after a public announcement period.