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Vancouver will allow drinking in some parks as pilot project

Last Updated Jul 27, 2020 at 9:35 pm PDT


Vancouver Park Board passed pilot project to allow drinking alcohol at 22 parks

The province still needs to make changes to legislation before bylaw can be enacted, start date announced

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Vancouver is the latest municipality that will allow drinking alcohol in some parks around the city.

After a lengthy discussion, the Vancouver Park Board has voted in favour of a pilot project allowing alcohol in 22 locations.

However, Commissioner Tricia Barker says the province will need to make changes to legislation, meaning the pilot project might not be in action until next year.

“I would like to think we can be a little bit more casual with people that are doing this right now. We know why people are out socializing. We know they’re going to parks and doing this,” she says.

“If the pilot doesn’t happen until next year, I think that’s a better time to get actually solid information about how it goes.”

Before a start date can be announced, the bylaw requires an update to the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, which has to be done by the province. Until then, it can’t come into effect.

Barker notes there aren’t enough resources to continue policing people who are drinking at parks or beaches.

“We know we don’t have the resources or the park rangers, or some of the VPD or people to go and monitor that,” she says.

John Coupar, park board commissioner, says he feels like the majority of people in the city can be expected to responsibly drink in public.

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“I think that we’re at the stage in Vancouver that people can go down to the park and have a glass of wine or beer. It’s still illegal to be intoxicated in a public place.”

The board has also asked staff to apply for licenses that would allow concession stands located near the pilot sites to sell beer, ciders and coolers.

While people have been drinking alcohol in parks and at beaches regardless of whether it’s legal or not, the debate has been ongoing. A push to legalize was emphasized amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with options to go out limited.

“In recognition of the evolving needs of Vancouverites, particularly as a growing segment of the population has no access to a private yard and thus relies on parks and beaches for gatherings of friends and family, the Board directed staff to conduct a feasibility study for a pilot project that would allow the public to consume their own alcoholic beverages in select park and beach sites,” a Park Board report released on July 24 reads.

The plan was up for a vote in early July, however, at the time, staff had only identified 10 parks where consumption would be allowed. It was sent back for review to include more options for Vancouverites.

North Vancouver passed a bylaw in June allowing for drinking in some public locations. A few weeks later, Port Coquitlam approved a pilot project also giving the green light for consuming alcohol at seven local parks.

-With files from Dean Recksiedler and Hana Mae Nassar