Beer group pushes for city to allow drinking on Vancouver's beaches
'You can have the sun setting here at Sunset Beach and you can't have a beer ... That's insane'
A group of craft-beer aficionados is calling on the city to overhaul its liquor laws around public drinking.
The Campaign for Real Ale Society drank on the beach at English Bay in protest on Sunday because they want the city to allow responsible drinking in public places, including beaches and parks.
David Perry, the group's president, says people are already drinking in public, but hide it from police patrols.
"In my opinion, that probably leads to people getting more loaded faster because they're trying to down it as quickly as they can before the next patrol comes by," he said.
Under current B.C. laws, anyone caught in public with open alcohol could face a $240 fine.
But under new provincial regulations that came into effect this year, the city has the right to designate public areas for alcohol consumption as long as signs are posted.
'Tough to open up'
The City of Vancouver deferred comment to the Vancouver Park Board, which says it's reviewing its concession strategy this fall.
That includes the question of whether to sell alcohol at concession stands, said board chair Michael Wiebe.
"It's something that's tough to open up," Wiebe said.
Wiebe worked as a lifeguard for more than 10 years and said he's mindful of beachgoers' concerns, including broken bottles and drunk swimmers.
The board is considering zones in front of establishments where "you could just buy a bottle of wine, sit down and enjoy a picnic," Wiebe said.
But Perry said that's not what most beachgoers want.
"They want to pay eight bucks for a six-pack and sit back and enjoy it for a few hours," he said.
Police were alerted to Sunday's event in advance, but did not issue any tickets to the protestors as they openly drank.
Perry said he's hoping his protest will at least start a conversation about loosening up liquor regulations at the beach.
"You can have the sun setting here at Sunset Beach and you can't have a beer ... That's insane."
Listen to the full interview with David Perry below.
With files from Natasha Frakes and CBC's B.C. Almanac