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‘Sit there, have a drink’: Campers now consume liquor at Alberta parks during May long weekend

WATCH ABOVE: This is the first long weekend in Alberta since the UCP government relaxed liquor restrictions at provincial parks. Julia Wong reports.

Some Albertans are spending the Victoria Day long weekend doing something that, until recently, was not allowed at certain provincial parks – cracking open a drink.

Previously, a complete liquor ban was in place over the May long weekend for eight provincial parks — Aspen Beach, Miquelon Lake, Garner Lake, Dillberry Lake, Pigeon Lake, Whitney Lakes, Jarvis Bay and Wabamun.

RELATED: Alberta drops ‘prohibition-era’ liquor restrictions ahead of May long weekend

On Thursday, Premier Jason Kenney relaxed the rules around liquor consumption in provincial parks, allowing them to be consumed by adults at campsites.

“It’s time to lift Prohibition-era restrictions around liquor consumption in Alberta and give adults the freedom to act responsibly,” Kenney said.

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Shane Toma of Edmonton spends every Victoria Day long weekend at Wabamun Provincial Park, where the rules were recently relaxed.

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READ MORE: Drinks with your picnic? Calgary seeks public engagement on allowing liquor in city parks

Toma, who was camping with his wife and son, said the family enjoys spending time at the park and getting away from the city.

He said life at the campground has not changed much with the new rules in effect.

“I was expecting it to be more [of a] party, more people coming out. But everyone shuts it down by 10:30, 11 o’clock,” Toma said.

“It seemed quieter…this weekend. There’s no rowdiness at all.”

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Toma said there was a nice feeling knowing that he was not breaking any rules by drinking at his campsite.

“You just don’t worry about it. Sit there, have a drink and not worry about them coming over and saying, ‘You’re not allowed to have that, dump it out.’ It’s nice that way,” he said.

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Val Santos has been camping at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park since the 1970s and remembers when the tightened liquor laws came into effect in 2004.

In 2003, right before the initial liquor ban was put in place, there were 239 violations across the province on the May long weekend.

“I thought it was ridiculous. People will drink anyways, whether it’s law or not law,” Santos said.

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Santos, who supports the new rules, said he has not seen any issues so far this long weekend.

“There’s more issues with music, loud music, but as far as drinking and walking around with drinks, it’s not a problem,” he said.

“We adapt to whatever law they come up with. If drinking isn’t permitted, we won’t drink. If it is, we’ll have a few drinks.”

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The government said also on Thursday that Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis regulations have been clarified to allow event organizers the ability to serve drinks where they see fit on festival grounds.