Plan to allow drinking at Calgary picnic sites shelved until summer 2020

The City of Calgary has decided to postpone a pilot project that would allow booze at picnic sites until summer 2020.

The move was made to buy time to discuss concerns over drunken behaviour as well as drinking and driving.


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More than 15,000 Calgarians filled out a survey about public consumption of alcohol at picnic tables. The city said a “slight majority” expressed favourable views of the project.

“It’s not a vote; it’s just a snapshot,” said Laura Smith, a Calgary Parks business and policy planner, on Tuesday.

She said the pilot should be set up to succeed, so the city will look at all feedback before proceeding.

“With a divided public opinion, we need to make sure a pilot project is well thought out to ensure logistical and enforcement issues are addressed and park experiences remain positive for all Calgarians,” Smith said.

The city needs to figure out how to deal with calls about disorderly conduct, Smith said.

“Who deals with what? What about the increase in the volume of calls?” she said.

How would police or bylaw officers respond to a likely increase in calls to 911 and 311? Smith said the city isn’t certain it can adequately address those concerns yet.

The city said it will work with stakeholders — Alberta Health Services, MADD, the Calgary Police Service, the Calgary Fire Department and city bylaw services — to address the concerns.​


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Smith said they looked at Montreal as a potential template, but since that city has “done it since the beginning of time” — because of its European culture — it wouldn’t play out the same way in Calgary.

Calgary is noting what happens in provincial parks after the Alberta government’s pledge in May to relax alcohol rules.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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