Alberta Campers May Get Drinking Rights Back

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May 24, 2010 by   - () Leave a Comment

Convicts earn time off for good behavior.

In the case of Alberta campers, good behavior may earn them a little Miller Time.

So impressed is Alberta Parks Minister Cindy Ady with the lack of rowdy long-weekend antics so far, she’s no longer making threats about expanding alcohol bans to other provincial parks, according to The Edmonton Sun.

Instead, Ady said Albertans may once again earn the right to toast responsible camping, provided the fools who triggered the bans at certain parks continue to stay away.

In other words, don’t pop the cork on the Dom Pérignon just yet, but it may be safe to start chilling the bottle. “We only use an alcohol ban when absolutely necessary, and we might even be able to go back and revisit those sites, and lift the ban eventually,” said Ady.

“We’ll wait and see and judge what happens.”

It’s a refreshing change over past Victoria Day weekends.

Ady admits the alcohol ban currently in place in 10 provincial parks and recreation areas left her with something of a bitter taste to begin with, because she doesn’t like telling people how to have fun.

“I’m not there to try and dictate rules, because I frankly agree with people who are saying, ‘What’s wrong with a glass of wine while I’m sitting in my campground.’” said Ady.

“I can only say, you are not the problem, honestly.

“It’s the ones who come into the campground to have a rip-roaring party and ruin the time of everyone around them.”

In past years, Sunday afternoon of the May long was a time for head shaking and restrategizing.

There’d be the traditional images of burned couches, trashed cars and campground mayhem emerging from the woods and campgrounds, where the fools would flock like flies to fresh roadkill.

Police and politicians would curse those who can’t drink and think at the same time.

As recently as two years ago, Ady threatened to expand the alcohol ban until every provincial park with a party problem was as dry as a Nellie McClung Bible meeting.

“We’ll look at that — we’ll definitely consider furthering the liquor bans,” said Ady, after the rowdies ran rampant in 2008.

The provincial liquor bans did expand slightly, and Banff even outlawed booze in its 13 campgrounds for the weekend.

Still, the sweeping prohibition many feared was held in reserve.

Instead of furthering the ban, the province instead launched a massive law enforcement crackdown, which continues this year.

In 2009, some 360 rangers, cops and conservation officers handed out 2,230 tickets for various offenses.

As well, checkstops were set up on highways leading to popular wilderness spots, both to catch those driving under the influence, and to ensure vehicles were in good repair.

This year, officers are doing the same, but as of Sunday, they’re finding rowdy has for the most part been replaced by responsible.

“I haven’t heard anything so far,” said Ady.

“Of course, I’m knocking on wood now.”

With 25,000 campers out for the May long weekend, the few fines handed out as of Sunday are a revelation.

It seems Alberta’s annual campaign to curb rotten behaviour, where a few soused apples nearly meant no cider for anyone, is finally having an impact.

As for the booze bans at places like the Ghost Reservoir recreation area and Jarvis Bay Provincial Park, she said it was a matter of breaking a long tradition of bad behavior.

“Once a site has a reputation as a party place, the next generation does it, and the next generation too, so you try and break that reputation,” said Ady.

Provided a new trend is underway, where May long weekend camping means a peaceful time with friends and family, Ady said the need to outlaw alcohol may come to an end.

“I think maybe people have finally got the message,” she said.

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