A Calgary city council has filed a resignation for a pilot that will allow citizens to drink alcohol in select parks this summer.
Thanks to a tweet that went viral in the city on April 9th, the Calgarians learned that Gian-Carlo Carra, Councilor of Ward 9, will be telling the councilor meeting on May 10th a notice of the motion Pilot alcohol use in picnic areas in Calgary’s parks.
Councilor Carra told Daily Hive that he did not intend to let the cat out of his pocket anytime soon, but the request has received great public support so far.
I actually have a notice about open consumption in parks as a Covid response. If #yyccc agrees, we will treat picnic tables like this winter’s bookable fire pits as the start of this season. https://t.co/RMiIfSJcOG
– Gian-Carlo Carra (@gccarra) April 10, 2021
Councilor Carra says he has traveled to European cities where public consumption is allowed in parks and says, “It’s a nice, civilized thing to have a glass of wine in the park.”
This pilot would be part of the city’s COVID-19 response, and if approved, picnic areas will be treated similarly to this winter’s bookable fire pits.
Ward 9 city council hopes the pilot will encourage the Calgarians not only to take advantage of regional parks that can be crowded, but also to keep people in less-used green spaces to spread the love of our outdoor spaces.
A similar project was proposed before the pandemic, but put aside as more pressing matters were addressed. “But now we are in a moment of generational and historical change,” says Councilor Carra. “And since we’re trying to diversify our economy and attract new residents to the city, this is another box to tick.”
Councilor Carra believes this pilot would attract the kind of people Calgary wants to bring to the city and would also help its citizens from a mental health perspective as well.
“We want to drive people outside and have the minimum number of people violating COVID-19 protocols at indoor gatherings.”
The pilot would allow alcohol consumption at selected reservable picnic spots in city parks, starting with around 50 spots and expanding to 100 or 200 as needed.
The pilot project will be evaluated at the end of the summer. This is the point at which success is determined before deciding what to do in the future.
Concerns about permission to use alcohol in parks include excess litter, as well as drunk and disorderly charges. However, Councilor Carra believed that “most Calgarians are good Canadians and obey the rules”.
In 2019, the Alberta government began relaxing the rules for consuming alcohol in parks by allowing visitors to drink in 14 provincial parks.
The Alberta government then allowed people to drink at picnic spots in the province in June 2020. However, drinking alcohol in parks or recreational facilities in the City of Calgary is currently prohibited and is a criminal offense.
The motion will be tabled before the Calgary Priority and Finance Committee on April 27, where Councilor Carra is hoping he will run away before being presented to the City Council on May 10.
If the city council approves Carra’s proposal, Calgary will begin following the provincial government’s lead in rethinking its stance on allowing park users to (responsibly, of course) have a drink or two at certain picnic spots across the city.