Alcohol to be permitted at select picnic sites at seven Edmonton river valley parks this summer as part of pilot program

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Edmontonians will be able to crack open a cold one this summer at 47 picnic sites across seven river valley parks as part of a pilot program.

The City of Edmonton will be permitting alcohol consumption in designated picnic sites from May 28 to October 11 after 71 per cent of respondents voiced support for a pilot program in an online survey earlier this year.

Alcohol will be permitted at about 25 per cent of the picnic sites in Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Whitemud, William Hawrelak, Government House, Victoria, Gold Bar and Rundle Parks. The pilot is expected to cost the city about $10,000 for communication tools and signage and can be funded through the existing budget. Each picnic site will have signage designating it as an alcohol zone as well as listing the permitted alcohol hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

In a report published Thursday afternoon, the city said the pilot will include both bookable and first-come, first-served picnic sites in these seven parks.

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“The river valley parks system was chosen for the pilot due to the existing presence of enforcement and operational teams which will ensure efficient oversight of the pilot and minimize additional costs,” the city said. “At the end of the pilot, administration will analyze data from the pilot including usage and complaints, and review and report those findings to city council in consideration with any future plans to allow continued alcohol consumption.”

Peace officers will take a “patrol and monitor approach” to increase awareness and enforcement will focus on addressing behavioural concerns such as excessive litter or noise, the city said in its report.

Of the 15,554 responses to the city’s survey, the second most out of any city survey conducted, 85 per cent supported allowing alcohol consumption because it would complete an enjoyable food experience. The biggest concerns for those not in support were an increase in disorderly behaviour and the potential for drinking and driving.

Council’s community and public services committee will discuss the report April 27.

More to come.

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