Fancy a beer on the beach? How about in a park?
If one park board commissioner has his way, this could become a reality in Vancouver.
Green commissioner Dave Demers is bringing a motion to the board next week that would direct staff to conduct a feasibility study on a pilot project to allow people to drink alcohol at select parks and beaches.
Staff would also be asked to sketch out a list of possible sites that could participate in such a pilot.
Demers, who campaigned on the issue of allowing some alcohol consumption at certain parks and beaches, said allowing the practice is a matter of fairness.
“More and more of us, a greater percentage every year of citizens of Vancouver, live in condos and pretty small places,” Demers said.
“Fewer of us have access to private backyards so we do rely on those parks and beaches for leisure; they become our backyards.”
Demers said the time is also right to revisit the issue, with the park board already moving ahead with another pilot project allowing the sale of alcoholic drinks at concession stands at English Bay and Kitsilano Beach next summer.
In January 2017, the provincial government loosened liquor laws, allowing municipalities and regional districts to permit public drinking in designated areas without provincial approval so long as signs are posted in the area.
However, no such areas currently exist in Vancouver, and consuming liquor in public comes with a $230 fine.
Demers said the feasibility study would involve extensive consultations with police and members of the public.
“It is mostly about consulting with people, like the citizens at large, as well as the users of those parks and beaches that might be considered for that pilot project,” he said.
“So it really is about what people want, and parallel to that, there are also the logistical and legal aspects.”
He acknowledged that there will be members of the public with concerns about the idea but said there are already laws on the books against public drunkenness and littering. Demers also suggested that making drinking legal and regulated could actually make things easier for the police.
The park board will vote on Demers’ motion on Monday, Dec. 17.
If approved, staff would draft a report on the pilot project idea and return it to the board by the end of 2019.
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