Fines on the rise: More than 30 tickets issued for public alcohol consumption since start of Edmonton's pilot project in May


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More than 30 tickets have been issued by Edmonton park rangers for illegal drinking in public since the start of the alcohol consumption pilot project less than a month ago.

That’s more than double the number of fines doled out in all of 2020, with a total of 13. In addition to the $120 tickets handed out, 692 warnings have been issued to residents drinking in locations that aren’t designated picnic sites under the pilot program. Liquor is currently only permitted in 47 locations across seven river valley parks between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., accounting for about 25 per cent of the picnic sites at these parks. Last year, a total of only 30 warnings were issued.

In an effort to deter the growing issue, the city has created three signs that are being deployed to several parks where drinking is not permitted to educate Edmontonians on where they can consume alcohol. The signs, costing the city about $2,100, are currently at Queen Elizabeth Park — with two near the Walterdale Hill — and Constable Ezio Farone Park, which have been drinking hotspots where multiple violations have been found. The signs will be rotated to new locations as warranted until the end of the pilot on Oct. 11.

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City spokesman Jim Stang said the city’s priority is to first educate Edmontonians on the limitations of the pilot program and the specific locations where alcohol is allowed. Peace officers did conduct increased enforcement on top of their regular patrols during the first three weekends of the program, which launched May 28.

“This resulted in more interactions with the public and as a result, more enforcement. Compliance through public education versus fines is the priority,” Stang said in a statement to Postmedia Thursday. “We have not noticed an increase in glass bottle debris at the designated sites. The warnings and infractions have resulted from regular patrols of all city parks by park rangers.”

Alcohol consumption is only permitted at designated sites in Whitemud, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, William Hawrelak, Government House, Victoria, Gold Bar and Rundle Parks. Sixteen of the sites are bookable sites for a fee and the other 31 are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A map of the picnic sites can be found on the city’s website and there is signage indicating zones were alcohol is permitted.

After the pilot ends, the city will return to council with feedback. Residents are invited to submit their thoughts in an online survey.

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