NDP blocks amendment to allow public drinking in Sask. parks for now

·3 min read
The NDP has blocked an amendment which would have allowed municipalities to permit drinking alcohol in outdoor public spaces, such as parks. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)
The NDP has blocked an amendment which would have allowed municipalities to permit drinking alcohol in outdoor public spaces, such as parks. (Alexander Quon/CBC - image credit)

Saskatchewan's Official Opposition has blocked an amended bill put forward by the provincial government Monday, which would have allowed municipalities to permit drinking alcohol in outdoor public spaces, such as parks.

The NDP chose to block the Saskatchewan Party's amendment on Tuesday, saying more consultation is needed.

Prior to the NDP move, Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said it's important to note these conversations are "just the first step."

Clark said there could potentially be a lot of safety concerns that come from the public believing the bylaws will be "wide open" and "there's going to be drinking everywhere in parks."

CBC News
CBC News

He said, however, this could be a positive change for the province as there are people who see drinking in parks as a nice way of being able to get together with family and friends.

Prince Albert mayor against idea

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne said he was shocked when he heard about the amendment the province put forward.

"We have more important things to deal with than continuing to add places where people can drink," he said.

"We have a great addictions and homeless problem in our province, and some of it is driven by alcohol and we continue to make it more accessible."

"Are we that thirsty and that desperate for a drink that we have to drink in public parks?"

Dionne said while he would not personally support the motion, Prince Albert City Council will be discussing the possibility of drinking in parks immediately.

On Monday, the Saskatchewan NDP said it would not immediately allow passage of the bill, stating the province should make more of an effort to deal with addictions in the province.

It also said the government should reach out to other jurisdictions with similar policies, such as Edmonton, to see what has worked for them and what hasn't.

Regina resident Sarah Moreland-Petere said she doesn't think modelling decisions on other cities is the way to go.

"I think we should not 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," she said.

CBC News
CBC News

Moreland-Petere said she feels passing a bylaw that allows drinking in parks could be done safely as long as it's not disrupting those in the park who are choosing not to drink.

"I always want to consider other people's sobriety as well, I can't necessarily control who's here at the park but I can control how I affect others, and I don't want to affect anyone negatively."

She believes there should be a curfew in place for parks when drinking is taking place and during events like Canada Day, drinking should not take place at all.

She said if the option to drink in the park were available, she likely would partake but never to excess.

"It's social, people kind of gather together around a beer or a drink, I think some of the negatives are people could take it too far," she said. "They get drunk, they get disorderly, it becomes a hassle for police or for just kind of keeping it in check."

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