Gatineau considers lifting ban on alcohol in parks

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The City of Gatineau is considering making it legal to consume alcohol in public parks.

The measure is part of a broader plan focused on allowing residents to enjoy themselves outside during the summer while respecting the physical distancing rules requiring people to stay two metres apart.

The plan, which will be tabled at the next meeting of the municipal council, would also allow restaurateurs to extend their patios onto public property.

Municipal governments in Quebec City, Saguenay, Que., and Drummondville, Que., have already decided to allow alcohol consumption in certain parks within their boundaries.

In Gatineau, city staff are currently analyzing the potential impact of such a policy. Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin said he's awaiting the results of the analysis, but finds the idea intriguing.

"The more space we can give people to have a life together — even if it's two meters apart," said Pedneaud-Jobin in an interview with Radio-Canada. "For me, it's important for our mental health, I would even say our happiness."

Gatineau's council will also consider suspending some patio fees for bars and restaurants. Both measures would be welcome with business owners, who are still waiting for the provincial government to let them reopen.

"In the context in which we live now, any measure can be useful and helpful," said Véronique Rivest, sommelier and owner of the wine bar Soif in Old Hull.