Temporary parklet approved in Vancouver as safe drinking space for managed alcohol program
Pilot at 111 Princess Ave. developed in response to concerns about increased drinking in the street
Vancouver city council has approved a temporary parklet in the Downtown Eastside to be used as a COVID-safe drinking place for people enrolled in a program for severe alcohol use disorder.
The parklet will be installed in front of the Drinker's Lounge at 111 Princess Ave. as part of the Portland Hotel Society's Community Managed Alcohol Program, which provides beer and wine to people who might otherwise consumer dangerous substances like hand sanitizers and mouthwash.
"Providing safe, low-barrier spaces for people to consume alcohol in the Downtown Eastside will help those most at risk in this community to socialize and look out for each other's safety," Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, said in a news release.
"Managed consumption sites also provide opportunities to link people to much needed support services, which is critical as part of our response to both public health crises — the overdose emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic."
The parklet is set to be installed from March 1 to July 31.
According to a press release from the city, the idea was developed in response to concerns from people and businesses in the area, who reported an increase in people drinking in the street after COVID-19 restrictions were put in place. That raised the possibility that both community members and drinkers could be injured by falling or being hit by vehicles.
City staff are also looking into creating more washroom facilities in the area, the press release says.
The parklet pilot project follows last summer's temporary program allowing people to drink at four public plazas in the city. This spring, city staff expect to report back to council about how that worked out and make recommendations about whether to repeat it this year.