The City of Penticton has once again become the only city in the Okanagan Valley to legally endorse the public consumption of alcohol on select beaches and parks, ahead of the 2021 tourism season.
The initiative was first implemented last summer to support the struggling craft beer, wine, and spirits industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city received letters of support from Travel Penticton, the city’s tourism arm, and seven local breweries.
On Tuesday, city council unanimously approved first, second and third reading of a bylaw to permit the responsible consumption of alcohol on select beaches and parks along Okanagan and Skaha lakefronts.
The areas include Okanagan Beach east of Power Street, Rotary Park, Okanagan Lake Park, Marina Way Mark, and the Skaha Lake waterfront between south beach drive and Parkview Street.
Public drinking will be allowed from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from May 1-October 15.
City councillor Judy Sentes acknowledged her opposition to the pilot project last year, but said she has had a change of heart after a successful launch with few complaints.
“I was very apprehensive about this going forward and had many people in the community be supportive of that, so I am pleased with the fact that we approached this as a pilot and I am pleased that we brought back the successful implementation of it,” Sentes said.
“The public has demonstrated their responsibility to take advantage of this.”
City councillor Katie Robinson agreed the public proved they could drink responsibly.
“I think it has been dealt with very responsibly and let’s just hope it keeps going in that direction so we can all enjoy a glass of wine or beer at our beautiful parks.”
City staff said Penticton is the only city in the Okanagan to allow booze on the beach. Other municipalities on the Lower Mainland, such as North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam, have similar programs.
Some beach and park users did complain about the overwhelming amount of garbage last summer which could be partially attributed to the pilot project.
City council, during the deliberations for the 2021 financial plan and budget, directed $88,500 towards increasing garbage and recycling capacity.
“Staff is in the process of procuring additional recycle and returnable (beverage containers) receptacles to supplement the existing receptacles, and the daily morning litter collection crew will be supplemented with an afternoon crew to address the increased accumulation of litter,” said a staff report.