Calgary

Kenney says he'll end 'war on fun' by easing liquor laws in Alberta's parks, summer festivals

You'll be able to legally drink beer in all of Alberta's provincial parks this May long weekend, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday — but only in your campsite.

Bans on booze at campgrounds have typically been in place during May long to curb 'excessive partying'

Entering a provincial park on the long weekend will no longer mean you can't drink alcohol, Premier Jason Kenney said. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

You'll be able to legally drink beer in all of Alberta's provincial parks this May long weekend, Premier Jason Kenney announced Thursday — but only in your campsite.

"Today is the beginning of the end of the war on fun," Kenney said in Calgary.

The premier says he will lift bans on liquor consumption in eight parks where restrictions have been in place:

  • Aspen Beach.
  • Miquelon Lake.
  • Garner Lake.
  • Dillberry Lake. 
  • Pigeon Lake.
  • Whitney Lakes. 
  • Jarvis Bay.
  • Wabamun.

"The vast majority of Albertans who enjoy our provincial parks do so responsibly. We should not punish the majority of responsible campers through liquor bans because of the past behaviour of a few bad characters," Jason Nixon, minister of Environment and Parks, said in a statement.

Since 2004, liquor bans have been in effect during the May long weekend at select provincial parks and campgrounds in Alberta to deter "excessive partying," according to Alberta Parks' website.

Under the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, liquor is also prohibited on roads, trails and beaches, in washrooms and cook shelters and in day use areas/picnic sites. The province says those rules will remain in place, with liquor consumption restricted to adults and campsites only.

Picnic sites, festivals to also see relaxed rules

But Kenney also vowed to relax liquor regulations at select provincial park day use area picnic sites later this summer.

The province says rules around quiet times, excessive noise and "appropriate behaviour" will remain in place. The plan is to shift enforcement staff from policing the liquor ban to watching for people behaving badly.

Kenney also announced plans to remove "unnecessary red tape" for festival organizers with events in provincial parks and municipalities around Alberta.

The province says clarified regulations from Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) will allow event organizers the flexibility to serve drinks "where they see fit on festival grounds."

"In the future, people will be able to grab a beer, walk around a summer festival in this province without fear of being arrested, or ticketed, or fined," Kenney said.

"If they can do this in pretty much every country of Europe, I think we can treat Albertans as responsible grownups as well."

But some Albertans are taking the news cautiously.

"If people can behave in a campground, then I think it's absolutely appropriate. But if they're not in control of their alcohol use, then it's concerning, especially because campgrounds have lots of families," said Calgarian Paula Rempel.

Sid Giroux from Okotoks echoed those sentiments. "I just hope we can be responsible enough to handle it. I mean, I think it's okay, but just be responsible when you're at the campsite."

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