Lions and tigers and beers, oh my!
The operator of two food establishments at the Edmonton Valley Zoo, Sandwich and Sons and 40 Acres, received its liquor licence in December and began serving alcoholic beverages during the Zoominescence event that took place during the holidays. The licence extends across the zoo allowing guests to walk around the facility as they enjoy their beverage.
Outside food and alcohol are not allowed at the zoo.
“We feel it is complementary to the experience as other zoos provide the service, as do other city-operated attractions, including Riverside, Rundle, and Victoria golf courses,” said city spokeswoman Debi Winwood.
Fort Edmonton Park, the Muttart Conservatory and Commonwealth and Clarke Stadiums are other city-owned facilities that allow liquor consumption on their property.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, guests are currently being asked to consume their drinks near the food venues to avoid taking masks on and off throughout the zoo.
Winwood said the zoo currently requires guests to wear masks in both indoor and outdoor areas due to Alberta Health Services’ recommendations.
“Due to challenges with ensuring all visitors remain physically distanced as they experience the zoo, we require visitors to wear a mask in all areas of the zoo,” said Winwood. “We will continue reviewing the zoo’s mask policy as the province advances additional steps in the relaunch plan.”
Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) spokeswoman Heather Holmen confirmed the licence was granted. She noted the Calgary Zoo has been licensed since 2019.
Holmen said there will still be policies in place that guide the sale of alcohol. Staff must be ProServe certified and the zoo must have care and control of their patrons.
The Edmonton Valley Zoo closed from mid-March to mid-June last year when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Alberta. When it reopened in the fall, from Oct. 11 to Nov. 28, the zoo welcomed 14,035 attendees. That number has risen to 25,488 from March 25 to April 25.
Meanwhile, a proposed pilot program to allow for alcohol consumption in select river valley parks moved one step closer to becoming a reality Wednesday.
City council’s community and public services committee unanimously endorsed the program that would allow alcohol at 47 designated picnic sites across seven river valley parks. If approved by a vote of council on Monday, the pilot would run from May 28 to Oct. 11 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.
— With files from Dustin Cook