Bon Vivant, Bad Vivant: Let Bridgewater be the Paris of Nova Scotia

Imagine a July picnic with friends, enjoying a glass of chablis with a croissant by the riverside – your crisp wine’s notes of citrus harmonious with the flaky, buttery pastry. Laughter, smiles, memories.

What if you didn’t have to go to France for a moment like this – and it’s a Ploughman’s Lunch croissant from Fancy Pants Cafe? 

What if the LaHave was Nova Scotia’s Seine, with Bridgewater’s King Street Court our Bois de Boulogne?

This may happen, thanks to Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell. He should be applauded for directing town staff to explore allowing alcohol consumption in designated outdoor public areas, which would make Bridgewater the Paris of Nova Scotia.

Mitchell’s proposal to explore this idea, approved by Town Council in May, is a common-sense move that should lead to a net benefit for local businesses and our collective joie de vivre.

People have enjoyed bonding over a drink under the sun for thousands of years, and other countries from Austria to the United Kingdom have figured out how to make it work.

But today in Nova Scotia, getting caught at a picnic far from any school or playground with so much as a cider is a $467.50 fine under the Liquor Control Act. Echoing the failures of prohibition, people still drink their pinot grigio in the park – but in Pepsi cans, in paranoia.

While the public health risks of alcohol must be recognized, a flat fine criminalising responsible public drinking is only hostile towards everyday people, and unnecessarily opens up avenues for discrimination.

Council directed staff to write to the Alcohol and Gaming Authority to determine the viability of this idea, and any potential project would be piloted in early 2024.

We can only hope for the provincial government to greenlight this progress in an act of noblesse oblige.


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