You may soon be able to drink booze in some Calgary parks

Apr 26 2021, 2:20 pm

A Calgary city councillor has a Motion of Notice coming forward for a pilot that would allow citizens to drink alcohol in select parks this summer.

Thanks to a tweet that went viral in the city on April 9, Calgarians learned that Gian-Carlo Carra, Ward 9 councillor, will be bringing forth a Notice of Motion at the May 10 city council meeting to pilot alcohol consumption at picnic areas in Calgary’s parks.

Councillor Carra told Daily Hive that he didn’t intend on letting the cat out of the bag this soon, but the motion has been met with lots of support from the public so far.

Councillor Carra says that he has travelled through European cities where public consumption is permitted in parks, saying “it’s a nice, civilized thing to be able to have a glass of wine in the park.”

This pilot would be part of the city’s COVID-19 response, and, if approved, picnic areas will be treated similarly to this winter’s bookable fire pits.

The Ward 9 councillor says that he hopes the pilot will encourage Calgarians to not only use regional parks, which can get crowded, but to keep people in lesser-used green spaces to spread the love of our outdoor areas.

A similar project was proposed prior to the pandemic, however, it was set to the side as more pressing matters were dealt with. “Now, however, we’re in a moment of generational and historical change,” says Councillor Carra, “And as we look to diversify our economy and attract new residents to the city, this is another box to tick.”

Councillor Carra thinks that this pilot would attract the kind of people Calgary hopes to bring into the city, and help citizens from a mental health standpoint as well.

“We want to drive people outside, and have the minimum number of people breaking COVID-19 protocols with indoor gatherings.”

The pilot would allow alcohol consumption at select reservable picnic sites in City parks, beginning with approximately 50 spots and expanding to 100 or 200 based on demand.

The pilot project will be assessed at the end of the summer, at which point its level of success will be determined before deciding what to do moving forward.

Concerns relating to allowing alcohol consumption in parks include an excess of garbage, and drunk and disorderly charges, however, Councillor Carra thinks that “most Calgarians are good Canadians and follow the rules.”

In 2019, the Government of Alberta began to relax the rules around consuming liquor in parks by allowing visitors to drink in 14 provincial parks.

The Alberta government then permitted people to drink in provincial picnic sites in June 2020; however, alcohol consumption is currently not permitted at City of Calgary parks or recreational facilities and is a ticketed offence.

The motion goes in front of Calgary’s Priorities and Finance Committee on April 27, where Councillor Carra hopes it will breeze through before being presented to city council on May 10.

If the city council approves Carra’s motion, Calgary will be starting to follow the provincial government’s lead by rethinking its stance around allowing park users to sip on a drink or two (responsibly, of course) in specific picnic spots throughout the city.

Cheers to that!

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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