Beginning today, May 28, Edmontonians can consume alcohol in select public parks as part of a City of Edmonton pilot project. While there will still be "a prohibition on alcohol consumption in a majority of park areas," residents can pick from 47 picnic sites in seven parks to enjoy a drink. Park-goers will be allowed to drink between 9am and 11pm at those sites until Oct. 11.
- City council passed a motion at the end of January to "conduct public engagement to identify picnic sites within city parks" that could be viable for the pilot program. On May 3, the project was approved.
- An online survey available from Feb. 22 to March 7 gathered reactions from the public. With 15,554 respondents, it saw the second-highest survey response in Edmonton's history.
- There were 71% respondents who strongly or somewhat supported the initiative, while those opposed were largely concerned with safety, including an "increase in disorderly behaviour" and the "potential for drinking and driving."
- A long-time proponent of the pilot, Councillor Jon Dziadyk will hold a press event at one of Rundle Park's picnic sites to mark the launch of the pilot. At 11am, Dziadyk will be the first Edmontonian to take a legal sip in a public park. As reflected in the city's survey, many Edmontonians are eager to participate but others are still choosing to opt out of the pilot.
- "This delights me. Not because I plan on doing a drinking tour of Edmonton parks ... but because it was draconian and puritanically that we couldn't before," said one Edmontonian on Twitter.
- "Promotion of alcohol consumption in parks where children are. Seems like the correct mindset of Edmonton," tweeted another. "Fire the entire city council."
- The pilot launches two weeks after the anniversary of the end of Prohibition in Alberta. On May 13, 1924, Edmontonians were allowed to break their dry spell after eight years.
Graphic by Jackson Spring