New Brunswick — As of this weekend, New Brunswick teens will be able to kick back with an ice-cold brewski without harassment from strict parents and the police.
“I can’t wait,” said Saint John parent Pat Spidell. “My boys are cooped up in that basement playing text-box day in and day out. I’d give the world to see them get out of the house and have a few drinks with some of the other neighbourhood kids.”
The new law states that “adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 can consume alcohol in all public parks on Friday and Saturday evenings between the hours of 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.”
The Department of Health plans to introduce the new law as a pilot program on weekends during summer months. If things go well, the law will be extended year-round, including school nights. Designated parks will be marked with signs displaying a stick figure with a backwards ball cap and wobbly legs holding a bottle. “They’re kind of cute,” added Health Minister Victor Boudreau.
Last year, Charlene Poirier’s son was injured while running from the RCMP in Campbellton. “He came barging in around half-past 3 in the morning all wet and cut up. We didn’t know what was wrong. We could tell by his angry stagger that he was intoxicated so we let him sleep it off,” she said. “The next day we found out he cut himself falling in a river. It’s a shame this could have all been prevented had this law been in place.”
Plans are also in place to have a rotation of volunteer parents on duty at the more frequented parks. To help level with the teens, volunteers will be allowed one alcoholic beverage per shift.
“It’s a great bonding experience for parents and teens,” said Cathy Rogers, minister of social development. “Essentially what we’re trying to do is build relationships that would have otherwise never happened had alcohol not been introduced. These are key elements to developing close-knit communities.”
With other Maritime provinces lagging on the idea, Tourism New Brunswick forecasts an influx of visitors this coming vacation season. One Charlottetown mother had this to say: “It’s nice to know when we travel to Moncton for the weekend we can drop the kids somewhere safe. With park hours parallel with most bars downtown, we can just pick them up after last call.”
With underage drinking on the rise in New Brunswick, parks are expected to fill up fast. Parents of teens in surrounding provinces are forewarned to call Service New Brunswick for updates on park capacities before planning their next getaway.