Penticton’s proposed booze-on-the-beach pilot project could start this week

Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach
(Aired May 21): A Penticton city councillor is proposing a motion that would push for legalized alcohol consumption in parks and beaches in the South Okanagan city.

A proposed pilot project that would allow people to drink alcohol at certain public parks and beaches in Penticton could start as early as Wednesday.

Penticton City Council is considering a one-month test run of the idea at their Tuesday meeting.

If approved, staff is proposing the relaxed rules start Wednesday, June 3.

The idea was originally floated by a city councillor as a way to support local businesses including wineries and breweries during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

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The idea is aimed at helping people maintain physical distance to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still patronizing local restaurants and alcohol producers which have reduced seating capacity due to the pandemic.

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However, some see possible health drawbacks to the plan.

Interior Health expressed concerns about what type of role modeling the relaxed rules would create for young people, the city staff report said.

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The health authority is reportedly worried the proposal would expose young people to more drinking and further encourage drinking among adults during the pandemic when some Canadians are already reporting more alcohol consumption.

One month pilot project proposed

The proposal council is considering Tuesday would see drinking alcohol allowed at certain parks and beaches on Okanagan Lake between noon and 8 p.m.

If approved, the relaxed rules would last from June 3 to July 4.

Council would assess how well the pilot went in July and decided whether or not to continue allowing booze on the beach.

The proposal is suggesting the relaxed liquor rules apply at:

– SS Sicamous Park
– Okanagan Beach
– Rotary Park
– Gyro Park
– Okanagan Lake Park
– Marina Way Park

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A map of the parks and beaches in Penticton where the city is considering allowing alcohol consumption.
A map of the parks and beaches in Penticton where the city is considering allowing alcohol consumption. City of Penticton

However, the city staff report is also emphasizing the drinking would need to be done responsibly.

People with open alcohol on the beach would still need to be of legal drinking age.

Proposed signage would warn drinkers “public intoxication and littering is not permitted and will be prosecuted.”

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The city was originally looking at relaxing the drinking rules in a smaller area and only one day a week, the director of development service Blake Laven said in a report to council.

However, city staff settled on proposing a broader pilot project to prevent the relaxed rules from leading to crowding and people not observing physical distancing precautions.

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– with files from Shelby Thom