REGINA - It will soon be legal for you to have an alcoholic beverage in your local outdoor park this summer — maybe.
The Saskatchewan Legislature recently passed the amendments to the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act to clear the way for beverage alcohol to be consumed in outdoor public parks. Minister for Sask. Liquor and Gaming Authority Lori Carr recently confirmed to reporters it received royal assent, and the change will take effect once an order in council is signed.
That formality is expected to happen soon. But whether the changes will be legal in a municipality where you live will depend on what your municipal council, or your local park authority (such as the Provincial Capital Commission in charge of Wascana Park), decides to do.
“Municipalities still have the autonomy to decide if they want to allow drinking in the parks,” said Carr last week. “So they will, as they move forward, decide if that’s suitable for their community.”
She said a number of communities had asked for it, and Carr highlighted that Saskatoon had made the “biggest push” for it. “They are doing some sort of outdoor park and they want to be able to have this as part of that and they’ll be able to do that this summer.”
However, it doesn’t become legal unless the municipalities pass a bylaw in their own communities.
“Right now it will be status quo — no drinking in the parks unless the municipality actually brings this bylaw forward," said Carr.
As well, Carr indicated the usual rules for alcohol consumption will still apply: no underage drinking, no intoxication in public places, and so on. The new changes do not apply to cannabis consumption, which is still not legal in public places.
The Official Opposition joined in unanimously supporting the changes, indicating they were happy to see the decision on alcohol in parks left to local municipalities.
“We believe that local voices at the table are really important, said Opposition Critic Nathaniel Teed. “Local voices know their communities, and so we trust that municipalities will be able to make the decisions they need to work for them.”
The NDP had previously held up swift passage of the changes last May, before the end of last year’s session. Teed explained his party had not been in favor of ramming the bill through and said they believed consultation needed to take place.
He indicated they were able to do that. “So we felt more comfortable having taken the time to pass legislation.”
Now the question becomes whether, and which, local municipalities open up alcohol consumption in public parks.
Regarding the City of Regina, Mayor Sandra Masters would not commit to it for or against in speaking to reporters Monday.
“I won’t get out in front of council on this, nor offer my personal opinion,” Masters said. “I think that will be up to council in terms of where, and if, we do accommodate public consumption in our city parks.”