Missionites can now enjoy alcoholic beverages in two parks, as the city gives park drinks a shot.
The pilot project allowing consumption of liquor in designated areas of two public parks – Centennial Park and Fraser River Heritage Park – will be in place for one year.
The associated bylaw passed 5-2 at council on June 20. Councillors who voted in favour stated the drinks were already being drunk.
“It’s simply legislation catching up with reality,” said Coun. Mark Davies. “I made sure to spend a lot of time in Centennial park these last couple weeks. And I was surprised at how much drinking already occurs.”
These parks were chosen as they meet the criteria of having washrooms, picnic tables, seating areas or shelters, and being inspected at least weekly or biweekly, according to the report.
There are areas in the parks that are excluded from the permitted drinking zones.
These include Centennial Park’s dog park, tennis courts, lacrosse box (including spectator area), and a 30-metre buffer around the playground; and Heritage Park’s Clayburn yard, Blackberry Kitchen, and a buffer around the playground and the OMI Cemetery buffer.
Special events at Heritage Park will still require liquor licenses and designated consumption areas to prevent underage drinking and help with crowd control.
Jack Poole Harbourside Plaza was initially on the list of drinking parks, but was removed after several councillors voiced concern.
Mayor Paul Horn said there is already an encampment issue near the park and it would distort evaluation of the pilot project; Davies said the park is just one bench, and Captain’s Cabin is already across the street.
The city plans to spend $1,200 on signs indicating where the drinks are allowed. Coun. Jag Gill said he wants to make sure the signs are visible, and wanted more detail on how buffer zones will be demarcated.
Coun. Ken Herar and Coun. Danny Plecas voted against the project. The latter said the report was limited, and was concerned certain drinking areas cannot be easily observed.
Plecas also described a “general laxness” in the bylaw.
“What happens when we have concerts in the park?” he said. “People bring their alcohol in a case of beer, sit down, listen and drink. I’m just having trouble with that one … I just can’t seem to support this.”
Staff will come back with a status report at the end of October, 2022.