Vancouver will make booze sales legal on 2 popular beaches next year
Published Tuesday, October 2, 2018 5:47PM EDT
Summer is long gone but come next spring, vendors at two of Vancouver’s most popular beaches will be allowed to sell booze.
The city is allowing two beach concession stands in English Bay and Kitsilano, B.C. to sell beer and wine in designated areas, during a newly approved two-year park pilot project.
It’s been in works for a few years and Michael Wiebe, the chairman of the Vancouver Park Board, said the hope is to “promote a different way of drinking.”
“The goal is to see how this works and understand that this is a society that we have created that isn’t used to having a free range of alcohol in public spaces,” he told CTVNews.ca, adding the move follows rounds of public consultations.
The city is setting up an area for customers to drink, just behind the concessions,so it will still be illegal for visitors to bring their own alcohol to public parks and beaches.
“We need to do it in a way that’s respectful,” Wiebe said. “If people are drunk in public there’s still rules and regulations on that.”
A previous study by the park board found that 79 per cent of people supported the idea of beach concession stands that sold booze. Only 16 per cent of people disagreed with the idea.
Last year, the B.C. government introduced legislation allowing approval for drinking in larger spaces beyond a 200-person beer garden, and Wiebe said that meant up to 1,200 people could consume alcohol on a beach that is licensed for that.
He mentioned that the city held a music festival in Stanley Park earlier in the year and allowed the whole festival to be an alcohol zone.
“What we find is that when we have inter-generational drinking together in a lager environment, the alcohol becomes less of a priority,” he said, adding that it actually led to fewer issues with public binge drinking.
Wiebe said fewer people living in dense neighborhoods have backyards where they can have drinks with friends, so instead, they’re going to beaches and parks for larger get-togethers.
“We need to recognize that we need to modernize our system to see what our urban parks will look like moving forward, as we continue to utilize them in more and more ways,” Wiebe said. He called the pilot a “good introduction” for the societal shift.
The beaches will be the test case for Vancouver’s board of parks and recreation to assess if access to alcohol shouldbe expanded to other locations.
As part of the plan, the city will also examine if seasonal concessions should be converted into year-round cafes or restaurants, if they’re in places with lots of foot traffic.
With files from The Canadian Press