Council approves booze at select Edmonton picnic sites in seven river valley parks this summer

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Edmontonians will be able to crack open a cold one at select river valley parks starting at the end of May.

City council approved a pilot project Monday that allows alcohol consumption in 47 designated picnic sites across seven river valley parks from May 28 to Oct. 11.

About 25 per cent of picnic sites in Sir Wilfred Laurier, Whitemud, William Hawrelak, Government House, Victoria, Gold Bar and Rundle parks will allow users to consume alcohol between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. The sites include both bookable, for a fee, and first-come, first-served areas. There will be signage that indicates the area is designated as an alcohol zone.

Peace officers will patrol and monitor the sites to ensure the rules are being followed.

During the debate, some councillors brought up concerns over public intoxication and overall rowdiness. But Ward 3 Coun. Jon Dziadyk, who brought forward the motion, said the city has the power to pull the pilot at any time.

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He said they are regulating an activity that’s already happening.

“We know that people are drinking in parks right now, but we want to channel that activity to where there’s washrooms, waste receptacles, picnic tables, food consumption and the like,” he said.

“Public drunkenness, noise, littering and all that stuff is against the rules right now there’s no reason to suspect this would be increased and when it’s in a regulated area, we’re going to have our forestry folks around monitoring use in these areas and what would be prohibited use outside these areas.”

Alcohol will not be permitted at picnic sites that are not part of the pilot. The only exception would be during events that have a festival and event licence.

City administration will review the pilot and report the results to city council at the end of the year.

More to come.