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Edmonton city council looking to loosen liquor laws in parks this summer

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WATCH ABOVE: An Edmonton city councillor is planning to bring forward a motion that could allow drinking in public parks – Jan 23, 2021

Edmonton city council is moving forward with a plan to explore options for relaxing alcohol consumption laws in public parks.

Ward 3 Coun. Jon Dziadyk introduced a motion Monday that was supported with an 11-1 vote, with Ward 7 Coun. Tony Caterina opposing and Ward 8 Coun. Ben Henderson missing from the vote.

“We’re still going to be impacted by COVID this summer and I think it would be appropriate to start exploring some select sites where we could have alcohol consumption,” Dziadyk said Saturday.

“There would be a limited quantity of alcohol each person would be allowed to consume — one or two drinks, with food.”

The approved motion means that administration will now look into the idea and will move forward with public engagement on the proposal.

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“I think it’s timely for us to have this conversation,” said Mayor Don Iveson on Monday.

“I think an awful lot of people were meeting in parks last summer with their beverages in go-cups and paper bags.

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

Currently, Alberta law gives some leeway for municipalities to allow public drinking in city-owned parks as long as it’s in a designated site and during set hours.

Dziadyk noted the bylaws around public drunkenness, noise and litter will still be in effect.

“If enforcement is going to be an issue, then it would make more sense to do this in a channeled pilot project-type fashion,” he explained.

Read more: Take regular ‘dry days’ while dealing with COVID-19 stress: AGLC

“Maybe only at Hawrelak Park for the first summer and really see what type of resources we need, but I think public education and awareness of this change would go a long way.”

Dziadyk said he wants people to enjoy the parks safely and this is one way to socialize while having the space to be physically distant.

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“What I’m trying to do right now is start the conversation, so we could implement this by the summer. Obviously a lot of engagement is going to be required and not everyone is comfortable with this idea,” he said.

“Ultimately it would be up to Edmontonians.”

–with files from Allison Bench, Global News

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