Change on tap? The push to update public drinking rules in Alberta

WATCH: Don't expect to enjoy alcohol in public in cities and towns across Alberta anytime soon, but as Vinesh Pratap reports, things are changing one small step at a time.

There’s an unusual sight now on some streets in Alberta’s largest city.

“We got a 15-person pedal-powered patio,” explained entrepreneur David Skabar with Pedal Pub Calgary.

Up to 15 people at a time can hop on the large-scale bikes, with the added twist that those who are providing the pedal power are allowed to drink alcohol while on board.

“If you look through the AGLC [Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis] handbook for this, you’re not going to find anything about it,” said Skabar, who spent months working with government officials to get the green light on the concept.

“It’s the first of its kind in all of Canada.”

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

The pedal pub is just another example in the changes that have been made to liquor consumption rules in the province since the end of prohibition nearly 100 years ago in 1924.

“Canada and the U.S. more or less have that kind of common history.”

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University of Alberta modern languages and cultural studies professor William Anselmi says when it comes to public drinking attitudes in North America, the rules are historically rooted in the mindsets of the first settlers.

“They brought with them all kinds of repressive states, which were mainly religious,” Anselmi explained.

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

The mindset, for some however, appears ready for change.

“I’m all for it,” said Darren Campbell, speaking to Global News while walking down Whyte Avenue in Edmonton.

“I think it can go either way,” said Karen Dotto, adding: “I think it’s a good idea, as long as there’s some limits.”

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In Calgary, a pilot planned for this summer to test public drinking at picnic sites has been shelved until 2020.

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

However, many municipal councils will watch closely to see how the experiment will unfold.

“I think we have somewhat silly rules that have been put in place over time that have more to do with the vestiges of prohibition than anything else,” Edmonton city councillor Ben Henderson said.

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“We actually have pro-serve certified servers and drivers on this thing,” Skabar said.

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Meantime, the pedal pub continues makes the rounds in Calgary, where Skabar stresses that “fundamentally, it’s safety first.”