May long weekend booze ban lifted at Manitoba campgrounds

For the first time in years, booze can flow — legally — at provincial campgrounds during the May long weekend.

Province made alcohol illegal at campsites for May long weekend in 1995

The Manitoba government has lifted the ban on liquor in provincial campgrounds this May long weekend. (Igor Bukhlin/Shutterstock)

For the first time in years, booze can flow — legally — at Manitoba provincial campgrounds during the May long weekend.

Since 1995, drinking has been off the table at Manitoba's busiest provincial campgrounds on the Victoria Day weekend, the unofficial start to the camping season. The ban was later expanded to all provincial park campsites.

On Tuesday, the province announced that ban has been lifted for the upcoming long weekend, May 19-21.

"We know Manitobans love to get out and enjoy the great outdoors whenever possible, so we want to make this change and allow adults the opportunity to responsibly enjoy their experience at our provincial parks," Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires said in a news release. 

​The ban was implemented due to numerous alcohol-related offences happening every May long, but the province decided to lift the restriction due to a "significant reduction" in incidents, the media release said.

Alcohol-free camping areas will continue to be available all season at a number of provincial campsites, the province said, with special family-friendly camping bays at Birds Hill and Grand Beach provincial parks.

Drugs worse than booze: reeve

Municipality of Alexander Reeve Raymond Garand thinks permitting alcohol at campsites discourages the use of illicit drugs, which he says is a much worse problem among campers at Grand Beach, a popular summer destination in his municipality.

A "whole pile of people have become overly aggressive and have become problematic" in the past because of drugs, he said.

Before the liquor ban, May long weekends were "marred by the behaviour of rowdy campers," then-natural resources minister Albert Driedger said in a 1995 news release that announced the initial campsite prohibition at six campgrounds — Birds Hill, Falcon Beach, Falcon Lakeshore, Grand Beach, St. Malo and West Hawk. The prohibition was deemed successful and was extended to all provincial campgrounds in 2000 to entice families put off by boisterous campers.

Most provincial campgrounds opened this year on May 11.

Since the emerald ash borer has been confirmed in Manitoba, the province is reminding campers not to transport firewood or they could face fines up to $1,300 for individuals. 

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