By Jack Wilson
Sherbrooke locals may be allowed to drink in public parks starting July 5, should city council approve a proposed bylaw in its July 4 session. The allowance will come with strict guidelines. Visitors to parks will only be allowed to consume alcoholic drinks during a meal and only between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Glass bottles and containers will be prohibited and drinking will be restricted to picnic tables.
In 2022, the city allowed drinking in six municipal parks as part of a pilot program. “We found that there was less police intervention in parks with authorization,” said Catherine Boileau, who oversees the project as president of Sherbrooke’s safety and social development commission. People were drinking in parks regardless of the rules, she said. “We’re saying ‘okay, you have the right, but there are conditions,’” Boileau said.
Though the change only comes into effect with council’s consent, Boileau suggested the approval is likely. “We talked at the last council meeting and the elected officials were favourable,” she said.
In the future, Boileau said she might recommend a loosening of rules. “We want to go gradually,” she said. “What we don’t want is that people go to parks only to drink alcohol. We want it to be accompanied by a meal, by a picnic.” Restricting drinking between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. reflects meal times, she said.