Not everyone toasted the Town of White City’s May 27 decision to relax rules on consumption of alcohol in public parks.
Coun. Hal Zorn, a former RCMP officer, and Deputy Mayor Rebecca Otitoju opposed the measure, which passed on a 4-2 vote in all three readings of the bylaw. Mayor Brian Fergusson, Coun. Andrew Boschman, Coun. Scott Moskal and Coun. Kris Moen voted in favour of the measure. Coun. Bill Krzysik was not present at the meeting.
The new bylaw (No. 706-24) enables consumption of alcohol in designated outdoor spaces from May 1 to September 30 each year during municipal events and programs, and any facility booking for Serbu Park approved by the Town. The previous bylaw (No. 694-23) allowed alcohol consumption during specific sanctioned events such as the local slo-pitch league, Council Barbecue, and the White City Movie in the Park.
“This thing just tears my heart out,” Zorn said at the meeting. “I’m really conflicted. This is the one issue where I feel most conflicted over my eight years here. My entire career, I have dealt with alcohol and alcoholics and I just feel there’s a lot of factors that haven’t been considered with this initiative.”
Zorn added the local RCMP detachment opposes this measure.
“I believe this bylaw conflicts with our strategic initiatives, such as having a safe and caring community,” Zorn said. “Honestly, I wouldn’t have thought of a safe and caring community having minor ball players sitting around with a bunch of people drinking in the park. As well, from our new recreation strategic plan, we want to be inclusive both physically and psychologically. If we are going to develop a recreation facility, everyone should have access to it.”
Zorn said the psychological impact of attending paid events and “having to sit beside five or six drunks, makes me feel like a hostage, so I don’t go to those things.”
“But that’s not a public place where everyone has access,” Zorn said. “When we have the objective of developing places that are inclusive and welcoming, … like the Council barbecue, (people) may not want to sit around people who are drinking and getting louder and carrying on.”
Zorn added he felt a responsibility to ensure bylaws created by the town do no harm to its citizens.
“There is a moral responsibility on us that we bring these matters to the table with a lot of thought,” Zorn said. “Not the way we personally feel about an issue, but how the whole community might feel about an issue. For all of those issues, I can’t get behind this.”
Much of the debate on this issue has taken place at earlier Committee of the Whole meetings. In those earlier debates, one of the options on the table was to allow for alcohol consumption in parks from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. That provision is not part of the bylaw Council ultimately approved.

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