British Columbia

Efforts to allow drinking in some Vancouver parks and beaches stalled

Motion asking for alcohol consumption at some parks and beaches has been withdrawn so staff can look into getting approval from the provincial government.

Motion seeking to allow alcohol consumption at some parks and beaches withdrawn

Advocates of legalizing drinking in Vancouver parks have pointed to the large numbers of residents who don't have backyards, and the guidelines around physical distancing likely to remain in place for some time. (Justin McElroy/CBC News)

Update: The motion to fast-track allowing alcohol consumption at some city parks and beaches was withdrawn to give city staff time to look into getting approval from the provincial government to move forward with a plan.

After weeks of debate, Vancouver politicians could soon decide whether to allow drinking in public parks.

But that doesn't mean people will be given the green light for imbibing in green spaces.

On Monday night's Vancouver Park Board agenda is a motion by Green Party Commissioner Dave Demers that calls for a bylaw legalizing "alcohol consumption at select parks and beaches" in time for this summer. 

"For me, this was always [about] ensuring that we all have the options of socializing with family when we don't have access to a backyard," said Demers. 

"We all know this summer will be quite different … so this is becoming even more important for us."

Vancouver has over 240 parks, and Demers said he thought limiting legal drinking to a few of them to start would be a fair compromise.

"There's a lot of people and families that will prefer to be in a park where there's no alcohol allowed at all," he said.

"So starting with a pilot will give us a chance … to make sure everybody has a place to go where they feel comfortable."

Timeline, process, jurisdiction

The debate over legal alcohol in parks has been bubbling for some time, with Demers putting forward a motion in 2018 that asked staff to study the idea and come up with a plan.

That work hasn't been finished yet, and last week Vancouver council passed a motion urging the park board — which is independent from council — to move forward on the idea. 

But NPA Commissioner John Coupar said there's no need to speed up the timeline.

"This is a bit of a stunt," he argued.

"Two different park boards have supported moving a little bit forward in a careful and measured way … and I don't think it's something we should be particularly rushed into."

Coupar also said park board commissioners had recently been told by staff that the provincial government needed to change its laws before the park board could act.


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