Little change expected from Alberta’s alcohol amendment

May 8, 2020

The Alberta government has recently proposed several amendments to the province’s consumption laws, lifting specific restrictions on alcohol. The rationale behind these changes is that they would make it easier for adults to drink liquor in public parks. However, according to an opinion article written by Carrie Tait for the Globe and Mail, these amendments would create little to no change to existing rules.

One of the proposed amendments aimed to eliminate restrictions on liquor consumption in parks, while allowing municipalities to determine whether drinking in public parks will be allowed without requiring food.

Previously, parks in Alberta were permitted to serve alcohol at their discretion, as long as food was provided alongside. However, the proposed amendments would remove the food requirement.

“This amendment is about giving responsible adults the ability to enjoy a drink in our beautiful provincial parks, and other parks, and eliminating the red tape that hampers municipalities and land owners for making decisions for their constituents and patrons.”

Grant Hunter, Associate Minister of Red Tape Reduction.

However, according to Tait, Albertans are mostly prohibited from drinking alcohol in municipal parks, except for at designated spaces during certain events. Moreover, the new amendments are not addressed to change this, since members of the municipal governments make decisions regarding alcohol consumption in public spaces.

“Alberta’s bill reflects Canada’s awkward relationship with alcohol rather than a drive toward individual freedom. It also highlights how politicians often support looser liquor laws in an effort to attract voters, but are reluctant to enact laws that will bring substantial change,”

Carrie Tait, for Globe and Mail

In her interview with the Globe and Mail, Lisa Young, a professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, said politicians experience difficulties in loosening rules regarding alcohol consumption in public because prohibition remains ‘part of Canada’s collective psyche.’