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liquor parks: Calgarians respond

Bylaws could permit liquor parks, with conditions

On Jan. 17, City of Calgary officials began an open discussion regarding the possibility of allowing the consumption of liquor in public parks around the city.

Recent engagements regarding possible changes to Calgary’s Parks and Pathway Bylaw revealed a distinct public interest in the idea of recreational outdoor consumption of alcohol.

What’s proposed

Abiding the regulations from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, consuming alcohol in public parks would be restricted to designated picnic areas marked by proper signage, and would be mandatory to be accompanied with food. Furthermore, prohibitions and penalties for public intoxication would remain in place to regulate consumption levels.

The idea was initially proposed by Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra on social media in August 2018, citing the possibility of establishing European-style beer gardens and the like in city parks.

“I’ve seen European-style beer gardens in parks in Europe and they are absolutely lovely,” Carra told the Calgary Eyeopener on Jan. 14, 2019.

Piloting ahead

The discussion polls closed on Jan. 31, 2019, and in the wake of public approval, the idea could be launched as a pilot project as early as this summer according to Laura Smith, a business and policy planner for Calgary Parks.

“We would be one of the first cities to do this,” said Smith.

She noted that Calgary has looked eastward to Quebec for inspiration, which already allows for the consumption of alcohol in parks with food.

“In that province, police officers are looking for a meal, so that’s not a bag of chips,” Smith said.

“That might be up to the judgment of an enforcement officer.”

Smith added that any drinking would have to take place at picnic tables.

Student reactions

From those interviewed around SAIT campus, responses were very supportive of the notion.

“I think it’s fantastic as long as people aren’t drunk,” said Ben Tsui, an Educational Lab Support Technician for SAIT.

“I’m happy to have a glass of wine and should have the opportunity to enjoy a glass or a bottle in good company.”

Eric Hallson said he had seen the idea work in France, and believes as long as people can keep their drinking under control, there is nothing wrong with allowing drinking in public.

“A bottle of wine between three people would be fine, but we obviously don’t want people getting hammered,” said Hallson.

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