Edmonton’s expanded pilot program, which will see alcohol consumption permitted at dozens of picnic sites across the city, begins this Sunday.
Starting May 1, adults will be allowed to consume alcohol between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. at 124 picnic sites in 18 Edmonton parks. The expanded pilot program will run until October 10, 2022. (See list of designated parks below).
Alcohol will be allowed again in some Edmonton parks this year
This is the second year of the program. Last year, designated sites were largely concentrated in the river valley. This year, the goal was to expand to parks beyond the river valley.
Public consumption of alcohol in city parks was to be discontinued this year. In January, Edmonton city councilors first voted to suspend the program. However, this decision was overturned at the end of February, with advisers making the decision to expand the scheme.
The 2021 pilot project began in May and ran until last October, during which 47 picnic sites were designated for alcohol consumption in seven parks in the Edmonton River Valley.
The city conducted an online survey after the pilot program ended, which found that 53% of 3,868 respondents rated their experience as very or somewhat positive. The survey revealed that 2,526 people who responded to the survey, or approximately 65%, said they had participated in the pilot project.
Edmonton launches drinking pilot at designated River Valley parks
Of those who were aware of the pilot project, 50 percent said they would like to see the program expanded.
Fifty-four percent of those who responded to the survey said the pilot program had no impact on their visit to the park.
A large majority – 79% – of people said they had not encountered any disordered behavior while participating in the pilot program.
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A city report showed that between May 31 and August 31, 2021, law enforcement officers conducted 396 proactive inspections of designated and undesignated picnic sites specific to the pilot program. The city said 245 warnings and no tickets were issued at the designated sites.
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Public consumption is permitted only in parks and sites marked with signs. Consumption is restricted to designated picnic sites only, people are not permitted to walk around the park with their alcoholic beverages.
Picnic sites can be booked online in advance, and are also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Signs will be put up this year directing people to tables on a first-come, first-served basis.
The following municipal parks are part of the pilot program in 2022:
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