Alcohol consumption

Saskatchewan. politicians prepare for public drinking in city parks

NDP Leader Ryan Meili pondered the idea on Thursday, and a government minister said he was in full agreement with the municipalities.

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Saskatchewan NDP Leader Ryan Meili thinks it’s time to have a conversation about allowing drinking in municipal parks, and a government minister has said the province is open to explore the idea.


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Meili considered relaxing public drinking rules when asked during an NPD “Save our Summer” announcement on Thursday. His party used the event to demand free admission to provincial parks, part of a series of proposals for safe summer fun amid the pandemic.

Edmonton and Calgary have launched pilot programs to allow the public to drink in certain city parks. Meili didn’t explicitly call for Saskatchewan to follow the same path at his party’s event, but he called it “a worthwhile conversation.”

“With the pandemic, I think there has been an understanding that outdoor transmission is very minimal, and that giving people more opportunities to be outside safely and enjoy life means that ‘They’re less likely to be in more dangerous situations,’ Meili said of West. Lawn at Wascana Center in Regina.

The provincial Liquor and Gaming Regulation Act restricts the possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages outdoors in a public place, although the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) can grant a permit. SLGA spokesman David Morris said regulatory changes would be needed to allow towns and cities to decide whether they want to allow alcohol consumption in their parks. But he noted that no municipality had so far requested such a change.

Meili said his party is having conversations about whether the province should “step aside and provide some leeway.”

Hours after Meili’s announcement, Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison also seemed open to the prospect of allowing alcohol consumption in parks.


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“It’s something we’d be very open to looking at, as long as people conduct themselves responsibly,” Harrison said. “There are many excellent examples in other countries.”

He said any easing could last well beyond the pandemic as a long-term option for the province. “We would work with our city partners on that,” Harrison said.

Despite her enthusiasm, Meili sees some grounds for caution.

“You also want to make sure that you don’t engage in anything that would pose a risk to public safety or encourage excessive drinking,” Meili said. “It’s about finding that balance.”

The idea of ​​reconsidering the drinking rules has been welcomed in the City of Regina, especially by the Ward 3 Coun. Andrew Stevens.

“I think maybe we should have a conversation about these antiquated drinking rules and regulations that probably date back to the 1920s and 1930s,” Stevens said in a brief interview.

Meili said his party’s ‘Save our Summer’ proposals would create jobs while providing ‘family-friendly activities as we seek to ease restrictions over the summer’. He suggested scrapping all provincial park entrance fees for the 2021 summer season and reinstating the canceled Gradworks youth internship program.

The NDP also reiterated its longstanding call to scrap the provincial sales tax on restaurant meals and, at least initially, called for the same tax relief for live entertainment.

“These proposals would make it easier for Saskatchewan people to be tourists in their own province, enjoy all the beauty and wonder Saskatchewan has to offer, and revive the hard-hit restaurant and hospitality industries. live entertainment,” Meili said.


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But Premier Scott Moe fired back during Question Period in the Legislative Assembly, mocking Meili for a “non-serious” proposal, given that live entertainment is already PST-free. “They just can’t fix basic things,” Moe said. He defended his vaccine-driven plan to ensure a normal summer for the people of Saskatchewan.

“We’re going to have a good old-school Saskatchewan summer,” Moe said. “We’re not going to have a Trudeau summer; we’re not going to have an NDP summer.

Harrison brushed off Meili’s Gradworks proposal, calling it “redundant”. He said crown corporations now offer even more internships than when they operated. He was equally dismissive of the idea of ​​free provincial parks. Harrison said bookings were “through the roof” in 2020, and he expects the same this year.

“People are very willing to pay their $10 to enter the park and take advantage of what is just a great opportunity,” he said. “This entrance fee pays for really meaningful and important things.”

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