A city council-approved pilot project to allow alcohol consumption in some Edmonton parks began on Friday.
The pilot program will allow public consumption of alcohol in select River Valley parks from May 28 through October 11, 2021.
There are 47 picnic sites in seven river valley parks where alcohol consumption will be permitted, about 25% of the total number of picnic sites in the parks. The parks are Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Whitemud, William Hawrelak, Government House, Victoria, Gold Bar and Rundle.
“We’ve been talking about responsible drinking in parks for a very long time, but with COVID(-19) it seemed even more relative now.
“We’re asking people to stay close to home, but get out and explore their city,” Ward 3 Councilor Jon Dziadyk said.
READ MORE: Pilot program will allow alcohol consumption in select Edmonton parks
The city said people can either Book a seat or walk to one of the sites on a first-come, first-served basis. Alcohol consumption will be permitted from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily at picnic areas marked with signage.
At Hawrelak Park, there are three picnic spots that will allow drinking, with one of the three spots available for reservations.
“The sites that were chosen were carefully selected for their suitability in terms of being close to toilets and garbage cans and away from playgrounds,” Dziadyk said.
“We’re going to allow this activity in a place that’s most responsible for it, and then we’ll try to further crack down on places where it’s happening elsewhere.”
Dziadyk said bylaw officers will be at parks to make sure people are consuming alcohol in designated areas.
In early May, Edmonton city councilors voted in favor of the pilot program. Councilors Tim Cartmell, Tony Caterina and Bev Esslinger voted against the idea.
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The pilot comes after the city conducted an online survey earlier this year which showed that 71% of more than 15,000 respondents strongly or somewhat supported the idea.
Reasons to support the idea included 85% who said it complements an enjoyable eating experience, 82% said it regulated an activity that was already happening, and 79% said it increased opportunities for interaction. social with family and friends.
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Opposition to the idea was largely focused on public safety, with the main reasons for opposition being an increase in disorderly behavior and the potential for drunk driving.
Once the pilot is complete, the administration will analyze the data, including usage and complaints. Dziadyk is confident the pilot will be a success, but is open to considering changes or cancellation.
“If something gets out of hand…it would be a problem and then there would be an opportunity to adjust the pilot or even put it on hold,” he said.
A report on the results will be presented to City Council at the end of 2021 for future consideration.
Should Edmontonians be allowed to drink alcohol in city parks?
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