vancouver alcohol park

This Canadian city may soon allow residents to drink alcohol in parks and on beaches

Summer is fast approaching in Canada and though we already know it won't look anything like previous summers, Canadians can still try to make the best out of the warm weather while safely practicing social distancing. 

That's exactly what one Vancouver city councillor believes, and it's the reason she's advocating for residents to be legally allowed to drink alcohol in the city's parks and on its beaches. 

Christine Boyle wrote on Twitter earlier this week that she plans to bring a motion to the May 26 council meeting to legalize responsible alcohol consumption in Vancouver parks and beaches. 

Boyle even started a petition in collaboration with social change organization OneCity in order to advocate for the motion, and it has 2,095 signatures to date.

"In response to COVID-19, restaurants and bars have had to restrict their dine-in service and instead have ramped up take-out options, including take-out of alcohol. B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has said that the coronavirus is less likely to be transmitted outdoors, and has encouraged people to spend time outside (while keeping a safe physical distance)," the petition states.

"The spring weather has brought many Vancouver residents outside and onto Vancouver’s beautiful beaches and green spaces to enjoy their meals. And despite a few bad actors, the vast majority of people have been doing so at a safe physical distance from those outside their immediate circles," it continues.

"Call us radical, but we don't think it should be illegal to bring a growler of beer or a bottle of wine to the park or beach."

And Boyle isn't the only one pushing for this action.

In response to her tweet, Vice Chairperson of the Green Party of Vancouver Nicholas Poppell reminded Boyle that Park Board has already directed staff to study this, as per Dave Demers' motion, since the board actually has jurisdiction over parks and beaches and not city council.

"Yes, I was very excited to see @daveforparks's motion pass unanimously! I'm hoping we can see this implemented quickly and widely, considering the impacts of #COVID," Boyle replied. "Hoping this can help, and that we can all work together, on a cross-partisan issue we all care about."

But Vancouver Park Board commissioner John Coupar told CTV News he's not too optimistic that this change could happen by summer, as the board has been studying the feasibility of allowing alcohol in parks since 2018 and the original plans included selling drinks at concession stands and setting up designated areas where they could be consumed.

But those stands are not yet open and staff have yet to be hired to work at them. 

"I suspect not," Coupar told CTV about whether this could happen by summer. "I mean I'm one of seven commissioners. I know that our park board senior staff have an awful lot on their plate right now."

Still, Boyle and OneCity say they intend to continue to push for the Park Board and the City to allow responsible alcohol consumption in Vancouver parks and on beaches, as quickly as possible. 

"Drinking fines negatively impact racialized and lower income communities the most — both in their application and their enforcement," reads the petition webpage. 

"They also disadvantage renters and those living in smaller, multi-family dwellings without access to backyards or other private outdoor space. Our City's bylaw enforcement resources could be better directed elsewhere."

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