Edmonton councillors quash liquor-friendly picnic park proposal

A city council committee has put the lid on a proposal to allow drinking at public picnic sites until it hears more about provincial plans to stir up the current legislation.

Youth council urged city to allow liquor consumption in select public park spaces

A City of Edmonton committee has turned down a proposal to loosen liquor laws in some city parks. (Peter Forest/Getty Images for Starz)

An Edmonton city council committee has put the lid on a proposal to allow drinking at public picnic sites until it hears more about provincial plans to change the current legislation.

"The province is looking at this [and] we're not sure of the direction they're going," said Coun. Bev Esslinger following the meeting on Wednesday. "So we said, let's find out where they're going and we could investigate further if that's something we want to do,"

The Edmonton Youth Council proposed loosening current liquor laws, prompting a discussion Wednesday at the community and public services committee. The youth council argued the changes would make parks more "inclusive and liveable."

But city administration said it's not as easy as turning on the beer taps.

Staff said the city would need to consider the cost and location of signage, the number of locations where the new rules might apply and how to fund resources for complaints related to noise, litter, or other nuisances.

Esslinger said relaxing the regulations might seem like a simple task, but the city needs to do its due diligence.

"They suggest maybe a pilot, maybe we should just try it and see what happens. Do we want a party park? Is that going to be what families want?" said Esslinger, listing potential scenarios.

The UCP government last month lifted alcohol bans on the eight provincial parks where the restrictions were still in place. (Parks Canada)

In May, the UCP government announced it would lift the liquor ban at eight provincial parks where booze was still restricted, on the May long weekend. The government said it is committed to also changing rules for festivals, which typically must restrict drinking alcohol to a limited beer garden space.

Calgary ran a survey in January, asking if residents would support permitting alcohol consumption at picnic sites for a pilot project to run this summer. 

A city spokesperson said the administration is still assessing the options and should announce the results of the survey later this month.


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