British Columbia

Outdoor drinking at select city plazas back again this summer in Vancouver

For the second year, the City of Vancouver will allow people to drink alcohol at select public plazas this summer.

Drinking will be allowed at 3 sites between May 31 and Oct. 11

Two women enjoy a beer on Aug. 11, 2020, in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery during last year's pilot project. This site is not one of the probgram's locations this year. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

Vancouverties will again be allowed to bring their own booze and drink outdoors at select plazas but will be able to start a little earlier this year.

On Tuesday, Vancouver city council approved the return of the pilot project that started last year.

The program will run 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. PT from May 31 to Oct. 11 at these three sites:

  • Cambie and 17th Avenue (returning site)
  • 800 Robson Street (new location this year)
  • Fraser and 27th Avenue (new location this year)

Last year, the program ran at the Cambie and 17th Avenue plaza as well as three sites not returning this year at the Bute-Robson Plaza, šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énk Square (Vancouver Art Gallery – North Plaza) and Lot 19 at 900 Cordova Street.

"As a City, we continue to strive to be flexible and responsive to the impact COVID-19 is having on our businesses and communities across Vancouver," said Mayor Kennedy Stewart in a statement.

"Based on the success of this pilot in its first year, I hope this project will once again provide business patrons and residents the space to connect and safely socialize with each other, particularly as businesses continue to struggle with reduced dining capacity."

All participating public plazas will have access to automated public toilets or temporary portable washrooms, according to the City of Vancouver. It says the sites will be managed in partnership with local business associations and a nearby restaurant in consultation with police and the health authority.

Positive reviews, no increase in problems, city says

A staff report to council said last year's pilot did not lead to increased emergency calls or emergency department visits and says monitoring for these kinds of trends will continue to be part of the project. 

The report also said the plazas helped to support local restaurants and the feedback from local businesses last year was positive. It suggested the plazas provided a safe way to enjoy takeout or a place to wait for a table at a restaurant.

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