June 27, 2019 8:00 am
Updated: June 27, 2019 2:35 pm

Public drinking: How does Alberta compare to other Canadian provinces?

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta is moving to ease its public liquor laws in a variety of ways. As Vinesh Pratap explains, that's resulted in some unique situations — including a 'pub on pedals' in Calgary.

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Over the past several weeks, Alberta — and a couple of its cities — has taken steps to try to loosen its laws around drinking in public places.

Earlier this spring, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney eased some restrictions by allowing drinking in all provincial campgrounds over the May long weekend.

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Just a few weeks ago, the Edmonton Youth Council made a push at city council, nudging the city to consider allowing alcohol in city parks.

READ MORE: Youth Council nudges Edmonton to consider allowing alcohol in city parks

And in Calgary, community engagement was underway to determine the public interest in allowing drinking at picnic sites in city parks.

Ultimately, the pilot project was was shelved until next summer. The city said the decision to postpone the project was to buy time to discuss concerns over drunken behaviour, as well as drinking and driving.

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

Public drinking in Canada

Canadian liquor laws are constructed provincially. In Canada, with the exception of Quebec, possession of open containers of alcohol in public is generally against provincial laws and municipal bylaws.

For the most part, open liquor is not permitted except in private residences or on licensed premises.

As Alberta makes moves to ease its public liquor laws, we thought we’d take a look at how our province compares to others across Canada.

Here’s a breakdown:

British Columbia

In B.C., consuming alcohol or being in possession of an open liquor container in public is prohibited. However, there are some exceptions when a permit is issued.

The legal drinking age in B.C. is 19.

The fine in B.C. for consuming or possessing open liquor in a public place is $230. The fine for being intoxicated in public is $115.

Alberta

Here in Alberta, the laws are very similar to our western counterparts, although drinking at picnic benches is OK when appropriate signage is in place. There is also some leeway for municipalities to allow for public drinking on city-owned properties like parks.

LISTEN: City of Calgary parks planner Laura Smith joins The Morning News to explain why Calgary is delaying allowing drinking in city parks

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Drinking at public events is allowed, providing the proper licences are in place. And drinking isn’t always restricted to just beer gardens.

The legal drinking age in Alberta is 18.

The fine in Alberta for consuming alcohol in public where it’s not permitted is $115. The fine is the same for being intoxicated in public.

Watch below: Premier Kenney drops ‘prohibition-era’ liquor restrictions ahead of May long weekend

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan also has similar rules. Drinking in public is prohibited unless a permit has been issued. When it comes to Saskatchewan campgrounds, people over the age of 19 are permitted to drink within their campsite.

The legal drinking age in Saskatchewan is 19.

The fine in Saskatchewan for being intoxicated in public ranges from no less than $10 to no more than $100.

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

Manitoba

The public drinking rules in Manitoba are on par with other provinces in Canada. One of the more interesting exceptions is that a person may possess and consume liquor in a washroom that is within or adjacent to a premises where a licence or permit has been issued.

The legal drinking age in Manitoba is 18.

Manitoba has the heftiest fine in Canada for people caught with open liquor in a public place at a whopping $672.

Ontario

In Ontario, consuming alcohol is prohibited unless you’re in a residence or a place where a licence has been issued. There are some other exceptions under provincial regulations.

In Ontario’s spring 2019 budget, the Progressive Conservatives made moves to loosen the province’s liquor laws, including a plan to expand the sale of beer and wine to corner stores, big box stores and more grocery stores.

A tailgating permit is being created for eligible sporting events, as well as introducing new legislation to permit municipalities to allowing drinking in city parks.

READ MORE: PC government loosens Ontario booze, gambling, rules in first budget

Right now, drinking is allowed in provincial parks, except during scheduled alcohol bans. Alcohol must remain on the camper’s site at all times.

The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19.

The fine in Ontario for consuming alcohol in public where it’s not permitted ranges from $100 to $125. The fine for being intoxicated in public is $50.

Watch below: The Ontario PCs are loosening drinking laws 

Quebec

In Quebec, the laws on public drinking are the most relaxed in Canada. Alcohol may be consumed in public parks if you’re also eating a meal. The term “meal” is important; a snack like a muffin or bag of chips isn’t enough to be considered a meal.

The rules are also sticky around what constitutes a park. The outdoor meal must be consumed in an area of the park that has picnic tables. You can’t just crack a cold one on a patch of green space.

The legal drinking age in Quebec is 18.

Fines for breaking the public drinking laws in Quebec range from $100 to $150 for first offence, and can rise to $1,000 for repeat offenders.

LISTEN: Tim Stockwell of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research joins Danielle Smith to discuss at the taboos around public drinking

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Newfoundland and Labrador

The rules in the east are similar to the west, in that no person is allowed to publicly consume alcohol without proper permitting or licensing in place.

The legal drinking age in Newfoundland and Labrador is 19.

The fine in Newfoundland and Labrador for consuming alcohol in public where it’s not permitted is $100 or two days in jail for those who don’t pay the fine.

Nova Scotia

In Nova Scotia, it is also against the law to drink alcohol in public spaces such as parks and beaches.

The legal drinking age in Nova Scotia is 19.

The fine in Nova Scotia for illegally consuming liquor is quite hefty — at $467.50. The fine for being intoxicated in a public place is $134.

READ MORE: No plans to allow drinking alcohol in public, but smoking cannabis OK: N.S. justice minister

New Brunswick

In New Brunswick, people are allowed to drink in a residence or on a train, but it is illegal to drink in other public places without a permit.

The legal drinking age in New Brunswick is 19.

The fine in New Brunswick for drinking in public is $100. If a person cannot pay the fine, they could spend two days behind bars.

Prince Edward Island

People are not allowed to consume alcohol in a public place in Prince Edward Island, except on licensed properties.

The legal drinking age in PEI is 19.

The fine in PEI for illegally consuming liquor in a public place ranges from $200 to $400 for a first offence.

Yukon

Drinking in public places is also against the law in Yukon, unless the liquor is purchased and consumed in a licensed premises.

The legal drinking age in Yukon is 19.

The fine in the Yukon for drinking in public is $200.

Northwest Territories and Nunavut

The rules in Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the same. Drinking in public is not allowed, unless done so in a licensed facility.

The legal drinking age in Northwest Territories and Nunavut is 19.

The fine for drinking in public in both territories is $100 or community service.

Graphic by Tonia Gloweski, Global News

— With files from Ryan Robinson, Global News

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

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