Elected commissioners want staff to expand number of Vancouver parks where liquor can be consumed

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      A pilot proposal to allow people to consume alcohol in city parks did not get a green light from elected commissioners last night.

      As a result, park board staff will have to revise their plan to expand the number of locations where residents can imbibe in liquor.

      Green commissioner Dave Demers, one of the most vocal advocates for permitting the consumption of alcoholic beverages in parks, described the staff's proposal as simply creating 10 beer gardens.

      That's because under the staff plan, liquor could only have been enjoyed legally in limited areas at the following locations: Fraser River Park, John Hendry Park, Harbour Green Park, Locarno Beach, Memorial South Park, New Brighton Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Quilchena Park, Stanley Park (two sites), and Vanier Park.

      Commissioners would like to see a plan where alcohol can be legally consumed in parks in all 23 of the city's neighbourhoods.

      The issue will come back to the Vancouver park board on July 20.

      A staff report stated that the board—in collaboration with the City of Vancouver legal services department and intergovernmental relations office—has forwarded a request to the B.C. government to amend the Liquor Control and Licensing Act to explicitly allow the park board to approve a pilot project.

      "In response to questions raised around the Park Board’s authority to proceed with this pilot, the BC Attorney General indicated that the intent of the Act was for the Park Board, as a local government, to have this bylaw making authority," the staff report states, "however staff have been advised that this authority could be legally challenged unless the language in the Act is expanded to explicitly include the Park Board."

      The staff recommendations presented last night were based on several criteria, including:

      * highly visible, nonremote locations with emergency vehicle access;

      * washroom facilities and recycling and litter receptacles nearby;

      * features and amenities appealing for socializing, such as views, benches, picnic tables, and shelters;

      * pedestrian, cycling, and public transit access;

      * nearby parking;

      * proximity to food and beverage services, such as concessions or park board business partners;

      * minimal access to natural areas or purpose-built and programmable space;

      * minimal disruption to nearby residents;

      * minimum of 20 metres from playgrounds;

      * not adjacent to schools;

      * avoiding bathing beaches for safety reasons;

      * and avoiding primary special event venues to reduce conflicts and the need for temporary restrictions.

      This list shows where staff recommended legal consumption of alcohol should be allowed.
      Vancouver park board