British Columbia

Vancouver Park Board to explore allowing booze on the beach

Commissioner Dave Demers' motion calling for a feasibility study on alcohol at the beach was approved at the board's meeting on Monday night.

Drinking alcohol at parks or beaches under the board’s jurisdiction is currently not allowed

Is it time to allow booze on Vancouver's beaches? A park board commissioner is proposing a trial. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The Vancouver Park Board has voted to look into running a pilot project that would allow people to drink alcohol at select parks and beaches in the city.

Currently, it's against the rules to bust out the booze in places under the board's authority.

Commissioner Dave Demers put forward the motion calling for the feasibility study at the board's meeting on Monday night. It was unanimously approved.

Park board staff are expected to report back on findings by the end of 2019.

Demers said he pushed for the move because more and more Vancouverites are living without private outdoor space.

"More and more, every year, many of us live in condos," Demers told On The Coast host Gloria Macarenko. "More and more of us, every year, rely on parks and beaches.

"That's where they have picnics and family. That's where they chill."

Dave Demers is a Green Party Vancouver Park Board commissioner. (CBC)

The Green Party commissioner campaigned on allowing alcohol at parks and on beaches during the 2018 municipal election.

According to his motion, 79 per cent of people surveyed by the board this year favoured alcohol sales at park board concession stands.

And he says many are already bringing alcohol to parks and beaches, despite rules forbidding it — which, to him, indicates a desire for change.

"I'm hoping we can take almost a full year to go out there and do the proper research," Demers added. "I'll be totally relying on [staff's] conclusions this fall when the report comes back."

He acknowledged that not everyone will be in favour of alcohol and in fact may want to stay away from it while enjoying parks and beaches, which is why he pushed for a feasibility study as the first step.

"The key here is to really ensure that everyone can enjoy the outdoor space in safety and in respecting the desire for some quiet time for everybody," he said.

In March, Vancouver police said its officers wrote 487 tickets for drinking in public in 2017, up from 292 the year before.

Those numbers reflect tickets across Vancouver, not just in parks.

Listen to the full interview with Demers:

With files from CBC Radio One's On The Coast

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