The Vancouver park board has approved a pilot program to allow liquor consumption in selected green spaces across the city.
According to a staff report, it could be implemented in 22 parks, beginning in mid-August and continuing until October 12.
According to the report, the pilot project requires the B.C. government to introduce a temporary regulation under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.
If liquor consumption in parks were to be allowed, it would also require a change to the legislation to allow the park board to pass a bylaw dealing with liquor.
"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 by-law 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 park board hopes to apply for licences so that it can sell beer, ciders, and coolers in some of its concession stands.
"The discussion around allowing alcohol consumption in parks has become more timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the physical distancing required in response," the report states.
"The pandemic has limited the ability of Vancouverites to socialize with their friends and family, however, as restrictions in BC ease public health officials advise that socializing outdoors at safe distances reduces the risk of virus transmission."
Earlier this week, Vancouver lawyer Sarah Leamon questioned whether the park board waited too long before approving the staff recommendation.
"After all, the utility of a summer pilot project that runs into Vancouver’s notoriously rainy fall season is questionable at best," Leamon wrote on Straight.com. "Determining the success of a project that requires people to be outdoors—spending social time in uncovered, unsheltered parks—when Vancouverites are swapping their sandals for rain boots is both ironic and illogical. "
Park board staff initially recommended 10 locations where alcohol consumption should be approved.
On July 6, the commissioners sent staff back to the drawing board, requesting a list of parks in all of the city's 22 neighbhourhoods.
The new list includes specific sections within the following parks:
John Hendry (Trout Lake)
Stanley (two sites)