VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The brand new alcohol in parks pilot program is finally launching Monday in several sites across Vancouver.
The Vancouver Park Board Commissioners first directed staff to develop a study for the pilot nearly three years ago – in December 2018.
Part of the Park Board’s mission is to provide more outdoor spaces to connect. Pete Fry, Vancouver city councillor, says it could have deeper impacts.
He notes drinking is already happening in parks, adding “Under the eyes of the law, it doesn’t really have very clear defined standards.”
“That ambiguity often leads to over-policing folks that are racialized in appearance,” he said.
“We know that Indigenous people, Black people, people of colour, in general, will have police and resources directed at them for drinking in public — disproportionate to white folks who are drinking in public,” he said, adding this motion acknowledges that.
“So people of colour, Indigenous folks don’t necessarily have that same privilege as many members of our population do to drink in public and not worry so much about being targeted or over-policed as a result,” he said.
The Park Board says it created this pilot to create more outdoor spaces for residents who don’t have access to private yards to connect.
It also wanted to respond to residents’ needs, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
“I think it’s an opportunity for recognizing that we have a really fantastic park system. I think the Park Board is taking a really sensible approach by finding areas within our park system. Mediating concerns that other people may have around enjoying a quiet space that doesn’t have people drinking. Recognizing that we don’t want disruptive behaviour,” Fry said.
Public consumption of alcohol is allowed at 22 different sites between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., seven days a week until Oct. 11.
- Collingwood Park
- David Lam Park
- Fraser River Park
- Granville Park
- Harbour Green Park
- John Hendry (Trout Lake) Park
- Kitsilano Beach Park / Hadden Park
- Langara Park
- Locarno Beach Park
- Maple Grove Park
- Memorial South Park
- Memorial West Park
- New Brighton Park
- Pandora Park
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Quilchena Park
- Riverfront Park
- Robson Park
- Rupert Park
- Stanley Park
- Vanier Park
- Volunteer Park
Vancouver’s program followed other cities, including Port Coquitlam, which was one of the first to allow drinking in parks. Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West says it has been a real hit with residents, and now the city has moved to make it a permanent fixture.
“I think what it shows is that when you treat people like adults, they behave like adults. And so I’m really pleased that for us this is kind of old hat. It’s nice that Vancouver’s now going to join the list of places where you’re able to do this,” West said.
He says many worried that crime and drinking-related offenses would rise, but Port Coquitlam has not seen a large number of complaints.
“It happened very early on during the pilot project for this. It was a noise complaint by law went right away they asked people to keep it down, and there were no further issues so other than that, single issue we actually haven’t had any complaints or any reported issues as it relates to drinking in the parks.”
Currently, people over 19 can drink from dawn until dusk in Port Coquitlam’s Castle, Gates, Lions, Aggie, Evergreen, and Cedar Drive parks, as well as part of Settlers Park. The next step will be to add three more parks to the list: Peace, McLean, and Dominion.
Several other cities have also opened up the option to drink publicly. Most recently, the City of Langley launched its own pilot project in three sites. The city says responsible alcohol consumption will be permitted until Sept. 30, 2021.
-With files from Kareem Gouda & Ria Renouf