Mayor hesitant to relax public drinking rules

Paterson cites concern over unsanctioned street parties, Breakwater Park

Image by: Amelia Rankine
City leans towards opt-out of public drinking.

In its 2019 budget, the Ontario government outlines provisions that could relax rules surrounding alcohol consumption. If implemented, it will be up to municipalities to decide whether alcohol can be consumed in public areas such as parks. 

Despite a lack of information about which public areas are up for discussion, Mayor Bryan Paterson told The Journal relaxing rules surrounding public alcohol consumption would challenge the City’s efforts to discourage unsanctioned street parties.

“These provincial changes, I think, would create challenges for us in terms of trying to work against the flow [of street parties] that we’ve seen in the past,” he said. “I think that would be the main concern.”

Paterson also cited apprehensions about alcohol consumption at Breakwater Park as another reason to be cautious about changing the rules. 

He said the park is a popular spot for both Queen’s students and families, making the power to address unsanctioned drinking there “important to be able to retain.”

“There are scenarios and situations where it could work really well and others where it wouldn’t,” he said. “It would be difficult to know without understanding the details of the policy.”

Paterson said it’s difficult to determine whether relaxed rules about alcohol consumption would complicate the University District Safety Initiative (UDSI), a bylaw implemented last summer that requires any student ticketed during Frosh Week, Homecoming, or St. Patrick’s Day to appear in court.

“I wouldn’t necessarily focus immediately on the complications that might be involved,” he said. “My initial reaction is, is this something that’s going to help or is this something that would exacerbate the situation? My concern is it might be the latter.”

Paterson added he doesn’t know when the government will provide more details about when and how municipalities will be able to opt in or out of the new legislation, nor does he know whether the public areas under consideration would include streets such as Aberdeen St. and University Ave. 

“It wasn’t entirely clear to us what public spaces would be considered, but our understanding was, it’s more than just parks,” he said “It can be public spaces, squares, and potentially could be streets.”

Paterson said if Kingston decides to pursue an opt-in outcome, the City would consult with the University and the AMS.

“It’s difficult for us to know if we would even get to that point,” he added.

While the budget would allow bars and restaurants to begin serving alcohol at 9 a.m., AMS President Auston Pierce, said the hours at Queen’s Pub would remain unchanged in a written statement to The Journal

He added the Society has been advocating for a campus alcohol policy, up for consultations this September, which will promote a safe drinking environment for students. 

“The [Society]’s primary concern is the safety of our peers, and as such, harm reduction is what we believe this alcohol policy should be about,” he said.


Alcohol policy, City of Kingston, Ontario government

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