Divide in community board over alcohol ban discussions

A community board member is trying to get drinking in suburban parks banned.

A split has emerged in a community board over a bid to extend alcohol restrictions.

Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board deputy chairman Aaron Campbell told Nor’West News last week he would like to see alcohol bans extended to include areas such as Elmwood Park, Roto Kohatu Reserve in Harewood, and McLeans Island.

However, board chairman Sam MacDonald contacted Nor’West News to say other members on the board, including himself, do not support Mr Campbell’s view.

Mr MacDonald believes the board needs to be careful about becoming a “nanny-state” to residents and “imposing unnecessary and punitive rules when there doesn’t appear to be an issue.”

“He is entitled to his view, but that would mean taking away the right for people who play touch on Elmwood Park and have a social beer, it would be restricting that kind of stuff,” said Mr MacDonald. He said the matter has not yet been discussed by the board and a date has not been set for a submissions committee to convene.

However, Mr Campbell said the current alcohol ban in Merivale, which could be extended, is a night-time ban only, so that wouldn’t be an issue.

“You aren’t going to be calling the cops on people having a barbecue and quiet beer . . . it’s up to police to use their judgement to enforce,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to be a fine, they can confiscate the alcohol or give them a verbal warning. No everyone’s going to be hoarded off and handcuffed, I think the nanny-state comment is dismissive and not quite cognitive of what the idea of the measure might be.”

Board member Shirish Paranjape said he would like to discuss the matter together with the board before commenting on it.

Waimairi Ward councillor Raf Manji said he has not seen any formal report on the matter, but it doesn’t appear as “a pressing issue for those parks and reserves.”

Fendalton Ward councillor Jamie Gough said he agrees Mr MacDonald and is surprised Mr Campbell would express his views before the board had a formal or informal discussion about it.

However, board member David Cartwright said he wasn’t aware of any huge issues in the areas, if the police were to come to the board about any, he would be the first to move the motion.

“My view is that it’s not required right now but I’m not totally ruling it off the table.”

Mr Cartwright said McLeans Island has proved to be a problematic area previously, for boy racer activities, which have attracted police attention.

City council is proposing a new alcohol ban by-law to replace the Alcohol Restrictions in Public Places Bylaw 2009 which will automatically expire in December.