Drinking in City Parks: Changes to Alberta's liquor laws.

AuthorHussain, Anisa

In 2021, pilot programs in Edmonton and Calgary allowed public drinking in certain parks. What did we learn and how has drinking culture changed?

To help Albertans endure the pandemic, the Government of Alberta passed the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act 2020, which allowed Albertans to drink in certain parks. In this article, we summarize the amendment's effects on the law and Albertans.

Provincial Legislation

This new law amended the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act. Most notably, the amendments reduced restrictions on public alcohol consumption in parks. Doing so changes the experiences Albertans may have in public spaces like parks, greenspaces, and plazas.

In effect, the amendments allow municipalities or other owners of park spaces to decide whether to permit alcohol consumption in their spaces. The province also now allows public consumption of alcohol in some day use picnic areas within provincial parks and recreational areas.

Edmonton and Calgary are the two Alberta cities that have explored the opportunity the furthest, with both running full pilot programs in the summer of 2021. Several other municipalities have explored the idea, including St. Albert, Leduc, Strathcona County, and Lacombe.

Edmonton Rules

The City of Edmonton ran their pilot program from May 28 to October 11, 2021, in seven river valley parks. Alcohol consumption was allowed at 47 picnic sites, which could be booked ahead of time or accessed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

When deciding which parks to use for the pilot, the City considered principles of safety, accessibility and minimizing costs. In particular, the City chose sites which aligned with existing peace officer patrols to ensure compliance and address behavioral concerns. The pilot was coupled with communication and education programs that brought awareness to the rules and encouraged responsible consumption. These programs included signs that informed patrons which parks were excluded from the pilot.

In line with the provincial law, drinking was allowed from 11am to 9pm daily. Additionally, City of Edmonton Bylaws 2202 (Parkland), 13145 (Animal Licensing and Control) and 14614 (Public Places) applied. These bylaws stated that patrons could not litter, fight or harass others. Nor could they disturb the enjoyment of other patrons or interfere with a peace officer carrying out their duties. Anyone who contravened these rules could be asked to leave.

In a survey sent out last November, most...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT