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Penticton becomes only city in Okanagan to endorse public drinking on beaches, in parks

Click to play video: 'Breweries for it, but IHA against booze on beach project in Penticton' Breweries for it, but IHA against booze on beach project in Penticton
WATCH: It's been just over a month since Penticton began allowing the public consumption of alcohol in designated parks and beaches to support local businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Survey results show the majority of residents polled support allowing booze on the beach, but not everyone is on board. As Shelby Thom reports, city council will decide at a meeting on Tuesday if the bylaw should be extended for the rest of summer. – Jul 6, 2020

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.

Read more: Group opposes alcohol at Skaha Lake Park; say booze and beach don’t mix

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.

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Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach' Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach
Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach – May 21, 2020

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.

Read more: Cheers! Penticton agrees to beach booze bylaw at select beaches, parks

“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.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach' Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach
Coronavirus: Penticton ponders booze on the beach – May 20, 2020

“The public has demonstrated their responsibility to take advantage of this.”

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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.”

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

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.

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