Councillor suggests Calgary try allowing alcohol consumption in city parks

A Calgary councillor is hoping to revive a pilot project that would allow those of legal age to imbibe in city parks.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said he’s bringing forward a notice of motion to a May council meeting that could allow Calgarians to book picnic tables if they’re planning on sharing a bottle of wine with some friends.

“We just finished a very successful program where during the winter months we had bookable fire pits in different public spaces. We booked them both to track their use and potentially track COVID-19 numbers, but also to organize how people use them,” Carra said.

“The idea is that we will take that booking system and that sort of organized approach and apply it to 100 or so picnic tables in public spaces across the city.”

Calgary currently has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol consumption in city parks, with the exception of events like festivals that have obtained an Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis licence to sell alcohol. 

A 2019 city survey found a slight majority were in favour of allowing public consumption. But the city postponed a pilot project which would have tested out the concept, saying with opinion somewhat divided and the complexities of enforcement more time would be needed to study the issue.

Carra said now is the perfect time to reconsider, as it would give people an opportunity to enjoy a few drinks together while practicing physical distancing outside.

And, he thinks it’s something that could work beyond the pandemic — a more European style of consumption.

If approved, Carra said he’d like to see Calgary test the idea this summer to see if citizens can enjoy responsibly enough to consider a permanent policy. 

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