by Colin Smith
Having a beer or a glass of wine in certain Morinville parks and recreation areas will become a possibility this summer if Council approves a pilot initiative.
The Alcohol in Parks Pilot Initiative was presented to Council at the June 15 Committee of the Whole meeting by Brad Boddez, Fire Chief and Community Safety Services Manager.
If given the council go-ahead, the initiative will allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed at the Heritage Lake picnic sites and the Skyline Baseball Diamonds within the Skyline Park area. The pilot will run from Canada Day to September 6, after the Labour Day long weekend.
People have been able to consume alcohol at provincial picnic sites since June 2020, under the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Amendment Act. Pilot programs for alcohol consumption at designated parks and picnic sites are now being undertaken by Edmonton and Calgary.
Under Morinville’s Alcohol in Parks program, residents and visitors would be able to have a drink in the two designated areas between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. Signs will be put up to indicate the location of the alcohol consumption zone.
Boddez noted in his presentation that all requirements to meet provincial legislation, such as age restrictions and conduct, must still be followed.
Community peace officers will patrol and monitor the sites to ensure that the rules are being followed and the program is running smoothly.
Sergeant William Norton told Council he did not feel the initiative would be burdensome for Morinville’s Community peace officers, who would also receive the support of the local RCMP detachment if necessary.
“At this point, we don’t feel there is going to be a huge draw on our resources,” Norton stated.
In response to a question from Councillor Lawrence Giffin, Norton indicated that he didn’t feel it would provide an increased concern about driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Albertans have proven they can drink responsibly without putting themselves in the dire situation of overdrinking and then driving,” he said. “Of course we will be monitoring and enforcing and intervening where necessary to prevent them.”
Councillors Scott Richardson and Stephen Dafoe both raised the suggestion that the Fish and Game Pond and its associated picnic area would be a place to try out permitting alcohol consumption.
At the conclusion of the pilot initiative Administration would review it and report the results to Council.
Council referred the Alcohol in Parks Pilot initiative to its June 22 regular meeting for a decision.