Saskatchewan’s Official Opposition blocked an amended bill introduced by the provincial government on Monday, which would have allowed municipalities to allow alcohol consumption in public outdoor spaces, such as parks.
The NDP decided to block the Saskatchewan Party’s amendment on Tuesday, saying further consultation is needed.
Ahead of the NDP move, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said it’s important to keep in mind that these talks are “just the first step.”
Clark said there could potentially be a lot of safety concerns coming from the public believing that the charter will be “open wide” and that “there’s going to be drinking everywhere in the parks.”
He said, however, that this could be a positive change for the province, since there are people who see drinking in the parks as a pleasant way to be able to meet with family and friends.
Prince Albert mayor against the idea
Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said he was surprised when he learned of the province’s proposed amendment.
“We have more important things to take care of than continuing to add places where people can drink,” he said.
“We have a huge addiction and homeless problem in our province, and some of it is alcohol-driven and we continue to make it more accessible.”
“Are we so thirsty and desperate for a drink that we have to drink in public parks?”
Dionne said that while she personally wouldn’t support the motion, the Prince Albert City Council will discuss the possibility of drinking in the parks immediately.
On Monday, the Saskatchewan NDP said it would not allow immediate passage of the bill, stating that the province should do more to deal with addictions in the province.
He also said the government should reach out to other jurisdictions with similar policies, such as Edmonton, to see what has and hasn’t worked for them.
Regina resident Sarah Moreland-Petere said she doesn’t think modeling decisions in other cities is the way to go.
“I think we shouldn’t base what we do on other provinces and look at our own province, but if it works in other provinces then that’s something that could be considered,” he said.
Moreland-Petere said she believes passing an ordinance allowing drinking in parks could be done safely as long as it doesn’t disrupt those in the park who choose not to drink.
“I always want to consider other people’s sobriety as well, I can’t necessarily control who’s here in the park, but I can control how it affected others, and I don’t want to negatively affect anyone.”
She believes there should be a curfew in the parks when drinking and during events like Canada Day, no drinking at all.
She said that if the option to drink in the park was available, she would probably participate, but never to excess.
“It’s social, people gather around a beer or a drink, I think some of the negatives are that people might take it too far,” he said. “They get drunk, they get disorderly, it becomes a nuisance to the police or just to keep it under control.”