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Public Intoxication & Drinking In City Of Calgary Parks

Posted on July 12, 2021

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As the peak of summer approaches, you may be dreaming of sitting by the river with a beer in your hand. While this is an activity that many partake in, it is not legal behaviour and breaks open container regulations. However, if you're itching to have an alcoholic beverage with your friends out in the sunshine, you'll be happy to hear that The City of Calgary recently announced that they are launching a pilot program allowing drinking in select Calgary parks this summer.

There are specific rules that Calgarians will have to follow to take advantage of this pilot program, including time constraints and more. Additionally, not every park is included in this program, and only specific areas of the parks have been marked for this new pilot program. So, how do you take advantage of this pilot program, and can you face criminal charges for public intoxication while drinking in a park?

Restrictions For The Pilot Program

For the City of Calgary's pilot program, Calgarians will be allowed to drink in public parks as long as they are within the designated parks and seated at designated drinking tables. These tables are first come, first serve, or can be booked online for priority access. The public will only be able to drink at these tables from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and each party can only be at the table for a maximum of two hours. If the pilot program is successful, it may be renewed for next summer or expanded on appropriately.

The city has also put forward rules and regulations for drinking at the designated tables, including:

  • Drinking In Moderation
  • Alcohol Must Be Consumed At The Designated Tables (No Walking Around Or Moving To Non-Designated Drinking Tables)
  • No Public Drunkenness (Must Stop Drinking If A Peace Or Police Officer Requests It)
  • Clean Up After Yourself
  • Do Not Drink & Drive

It is important to understand that you can face charges for public intoxication or criminal mischief if you are caught breaking these rules when you're taking advantage of this pilot program this summer.

Alberta's Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis Act

The Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act regulates the production, sale and use of liquor. Under section 89(1), it states that no person can consume alcohol in a public space. In addition, section 115(1) states that no person should be intoxicated in a public place. A police officer can arrest you and lay a charge against you or even take you into custody if you are found to be publicly intoxicated.

In the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act, the general penalty for an individual convicted under this legislation could be a fine of up to $10,000 or imprisonment of not more than six months or both.

Ross Lutz Barristers public intoxication Scale Gavel

City Bylaws

The City of Calgary also has a set of bylaws that regulates public behaviour. The Public Behaviour Bylaw prevents individuals from doing certain things in public, such as:

  • Fighting
  • Defecating & Urinating
  • Spitting
  • Loitering In Prohibited Places
  • Standing Or Putting Your Feet On Tables, Benches, Planters & Sculptures
  • Carrying A Knife

The fines for violating these bylaws range from $50 to $300, depending on the severity of the violation. These bylaws exist so that everyone can enjoy public spaces without feeling threatened.

Public Intoxication In The Criminal Code

On a federal level, the Criminal Code addresses public intoxication in section 175(1). The Criminal Code prohibits individuals from causing any disturbances in public places, and this includes:

  • Being Drunk
  • Fighting, Screaming, Swearing, Singing Or Using Insulting Or Obscene Language
  • Impeding Or Molesting Other People
  • Indecent Exposure/Exhibition
  • Loitering
  • Disturbing The Peace & Quiet Through Disorderly Conduct

Anyone that commits the above could be found guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. Retaining an experienced criminal lawyer who knows how to defend this type of offence is the smartest decision you can make.

Avoiding Fines & Charges This Summer

To avoid public intoxication or criminal mischief offences while you're enjoying public spaces this summer, remember to be aware of how much you're consuming, along with how your behaviour affects other people.

If you are already facing charges for public intoxication, drinking and driving or causing disturbances in public places, contact our Calgary Criminal Lawyers at Ross Lutz Barristers today. We can help you defend your freedom and find the outcome you deserve. Don't let one incident ruin your reputation.