The Vancouver park board and City of Vancouver are setting up for a summer of drinking in select city parks and pop-up locations around the city.
On Monday, the park board will be asked to open 22 parks to public drinking between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. from June 3 to Oct. 16.
These are the same parks that were open last summer to alcohol consumption as part of a pilot project that was driven in part by social limits placed on people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a report being presented to the board, the decision was also made to cater to “evolving needs of Vancouver residents, particularly as a growing segment of the population has no access to a private yard and thus relies on parks and beaches for social gatherings.”
The drinking parks include Kitsilano Beach, David Lam, Fraser River, Locarno Beach, Vanier and Volunteer.
The 2021 pilot was considered a success — with little effect on law and order — and staff were directed by the board in February to come up with a plan for a second pilot and a vision for making the changes permanent. This is what the board will vote on on Monday.
The Boathouse Restaurant at Kits Beach and Tap Shack at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour are the only locations directly adjacent to a pilot site that are able to sell sealed alcohol.
According to the report, commercial operations staff have begun the process of applying for liquor licences at the park board operated concessions, but this will not be completed in time for this summer.
“The process of applying and expanding existing business licences to accommodate the sale of alcohol is lengthy and will require capital modifications to sites for secure storage,” the report from general manager Donnie Rosa states.
“Commercial operations staff have initiated the process of applying for liquor licensing, but it was determined that licensing for food and liquor primary establishments have an approximate wait time of eight to 12 months, making vending and sales of alcohol at Concessions unlikely in 2022.”
Rosa’s report pointed to the City of Vancouver’s pop-up public drinking program, which is in its third year.
Last month, council voted to continue the program that allows “alcohol consumption in select public plazas.”
In the March report that council supported, it was stated “two pilot seasons have demonstrated that there is a high degree of public and partner support for legal drinking in plazas, and have not raised any directly-connected health, safety, or nuisance issues.”
In 2021 and 2022 there were pop-up drinking plazas in Kitsilano, South Granville, Downtown Vancouver and Cambie Village.
The Alcohol Consumption in Public Plazas Policy also supports an outdoor drinkers’ lounge at 111 Princess Avenue in the Downtown Eastside.
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