Penticton, B.C., city council to host special meeting for beach booze bylaw

Okanagan Lake beach in Penticton. The beach was one of the public places where public drinking was allowed during a pilot project between June 3 and July 4. Global News

Planning a picnic in Penticton? You’ll have to wait until Wednesday to see if it’s OK to pack a bottle of your favourite chardonnay, cider or beer to select parks and beaches.

On Tuesday, city council voted to hold a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon to vote on a bylaw allowing alcohol consumption at select public spaces.

The bylaw would extend a pilot project that allowed public drinking and ran from June 4 to July 3. The pilot was subject to review, with that review taking place Tuesday.

Read more: Breweries for it, but IHA against booze on beach project in Penticton

City council voted on Tuesday to hold the special meeting, with all but one giving it support. Notably, Mayor John Vassilaki abstained due to a conflict of interest.

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If the bylaw is passed, which appears to be the case, it will run from July through Oct. 15, from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The City of Penticton held a review on Tuesday of its pilot project allowing public drinking at select public places. The review included public input. City of Penticton

Heading into Tuesday’s meeting, city staff had recommended that council give the extension the green light, with the city’s director of development, Blake Laven, stating, “the pilot received enough support from the community to recommend continuing the implementation of this bylaw.”

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The pilot project allowed public drinking at Okanagan Beach, Okanagan Lake Park, Rotary Park and Marina Way Park, and was part of another campaign to help area businesses affected by COVID-19 physical-distancing requirements.

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According to city staff, 1,270 citizens took part in engagement findings, with 81 per cent saying they witnessed responsible behaviour. Staff also reported stats showing strong support for public drinking at Okanagan Lake and Okanagan Beach.

Councillor Campbell Watt said enjoying a glass of wine while on the beach only enhances what the Okanagan has to offer.

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