The Vancouver Park Board will meet once again on Monday to debate whether to allow the consumption of alcohol in select public parks.
The idea has received renewed scrutiny since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health officials recommended that people socialize outdoors to limit transmission of the virus.
Park board commissioners were on the verge of approving a plan to allow alcohol, with restrictions, at 10 parks on July 6, but deferred it to study the idea of adding parks in every neighbourhood.
The motion was supposed to be revisited on July 21, but that meeting was rescheduled to July 27.
The latest proposal would allow public drinking in specific areas of 22 parks “starting mid-August” and running until Oct. 12.
The 22 proposed sites do not include parks in all of the city’s 23 neighbourhoods, as some didn’t have a park that met selection criteria, which included factors such as bathrooms and proximity to transit.
A requirement that alcohol be consumed with a meal has been dropped as unenforceable.
The repeated delay in getting the pilot project running continues to draw fire.
The idea has been up for debate with the current park board since December 2018.
The City of North Vancouver approved a similar pilot project on June 29. Port Coquitlam approved its own on June 25.
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West has said since then, the city has dealt with a single noise complaint related to the program.
“When you treat adults like adults, I think the vast majority will rise to the occasion,” said West.
“We turned this around in about two weeks. It’s not rocket science and I don’t think you need to treat it like rocket science.”
While B.C.’s Liquor Control and Licencing Act allows municipalities to permit the consumption of alcohol in designated public places, the Vancouver Park Board does not have that power “due to (its) unique governance structure,” according to a staff report.
That’s in part led to the additional delays, requiring an amendment to the law.
After the vote was delayed at the July 6 meeting, commissioner Dave Demers said the board had asked the province weeks previously for the amendment, “so this new bylaw could be enacted right after our meeting on the 20th, if all works well.”
However, the board has now said the proposal won’t move along as speedily as expected.
“Staff have since been informed the current B.C. Legislative agenda is full and there is no ability to process the required changes to the Act in time for a pilot this summer,” states the report.
Commissioners are pinning their hopes on an alternative process by which the Lieutenant Governor can make them a specific exemption.
“It is anticipated that this regulation could be made in early August to support the pilot, however all authority will continue to rest with the province until the legislative changes are made.”
These are the parks that could eventually allow public drinking:
- John Hendry Park (Trout Lake)
- Harbour Green Park
- Locarno Beach Park
- Memorial South Park
- New Brighton Park
- Queen Elizabeth Park
- Quilchena Park
- Stanley Park
- Vanier Park
- Fraser River Park
- Collingwood Park
- David Lam Park
- Granville Park
- Kitsilano Beach
- Langara Park
- Maple Grove Park
- Memorial West Park
- Pandora Park
- Riverfront Park
- Robson Park
- Rupert Park
- Volunteer Park