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New Edmonton Project Allows Drinking At Some River Valley Picnic Sites

Edmonton River Valley Walterdale Bridge

By Almalexia

Canada offers a number of public parks that allow people to crack open a cold one legally, and Edmonton’s river valley was just added to that list. In 2020, the government of Alberta only allowed drinking at private campsites that required a rental in advance. Now, as of May 28, Edmontonians can find numerous spots to have a drink.

In 2021, Edmonton passed a motion, by a vote of eight to three, to allow drinking in certain public parks. The city also allowed the public to weigh in on the issue, collecting over 15,000 responses over the last year. Seventy-seven per cent of all respondents support the pilot project.

The biggest concerns out of the 23 per cent who opposed the motion were that drinking and driving complaints may rise, there is a potential increase in disorderly behaviour, and a general concern for the public’s safety.

This project was sought after by Ward 3 Councilor Jon Dziadyk. He said that drinking at picnic sites was previously illegal in Edmonton, but by moving this pilot project forward, the City of Edmonton hopes to give people the ability to pursue drinking legally.

At the same time, it allows an opportunity to control and manage what people have been doing for years. The City also retains the right to cancel the project at any time.

The pilot project outlines 47 picnic sites around the river valley that will have designated drinking locations. Edmontonians over the age of 18 will be able to drink openly in these spots between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. The program will end on Oct. 11, 2021.

Out of the forty-seven picnic sites, only nine need to be booked in advance and there will not be an additional charge if alcohol is consumed.

The selected parks are:

  • Sir Wilfrid Laurier
  • Whitemud
  • William Hawrelak
  • Government House
  • Victoria
  • Gold Bar
  • Rundle

Sites can be identified by signage:

Drinking Sign
Photo via City of Edmonton

Mark Torjusen, Senior Communications Advisor at Citizen Services, would also like to remind Edmontonians that just because you may be allowed to drink at designated sites, drunk and disorderly misconduct is still illegal.

“Park Rangers will be visiting these parks as part of their regular patrols to ensure people are behaving appropriately, and [drinking] only at designated sites. Anything criminal in nature would be turned over to EPS,” said Torjusen.

If people find glass or alcohol left in parks, the city urges them to call 311 instead of throwing it out themselves. Edmontonians can provide feedback on this pilot project here.

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