Park Board candidate proposes pilot project for limited alcohol consumption in parks, beaches

A Park Board candidate in the upcoming municipal election is proposing a pilot project to allow for limited alcohol consumption in Vancouver parks and beaches, building on a recent Park Board plan to introduce alcohol sales to beach concessions at English Bay and Kitsilano beaches.

Currently, Vancouverites are required to apply for a special occasion permit from the province to host an event with alcohol, and being caught drinking or possessing liquor in a public space could result in a $230 fine.

Green Party of Vancouver candidate Dave Demers now wants to designate certain areas within parks and beaches where alcohol could be consumed, describing this as a way to connect communities.

“It’s a pilot project [with the] main goal, basically just allowing people … to have an access to an outdoor space for picnic with friends,” he said.

“Most of us live in condos ... We’re trapped inside, and parks and public spaces become our backyard basically — our shared backyard.”

In addition to designating certain areas where it will be legal to responsibly enjoy alcohol, he would also leave spaces that prohibit alcohol consumption and maintain existing laws against public drunkenness and littering.

“Not every parent wants to play with their kids when there’s a picnic with alcohol next door,” he said.

“... It’s not like overnight we’ll just lift a ban and just let people do whatever they want.”

Demers said Vancouver’s young adult residents have so far given positive feedback about the proposal, adding that he feels they would be the biggest supporters of the pilot.

Park Board Chair Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon, who is also running in this municipal election with the Green Party of Vancouver, said the Board has received similar input.

“We’ve had people asking to be able to have a drink at the beach for many years,” said Mackinnon.

The Park Board has recently released a report outlining a new pilot project to introduce beer and wine sales at English Bay and Kitsilano Beach. For the next two summers, current restaurant partners will be allowed to run concessions at the two beaches to sell alcohol, but alcohol would only be served and allowed to be consumed in small areas that would not extend beyond current concession spaces.

“It’s a … step towards my own idea of a pilot project,” said Demers, who supports the plan.

Some UBC students have expressed interest in the idea of permitting drinking in public, citing the fact other countries already allow public alcohol consumption.

“I am pro public drinking, against public drunkenness,” commented Reddit user mercier153.

“I think that people should be treated as adults and be allowed to enjoy a legal beverage in a public place … The key is to be responsible and always clean up after yourself.”