Vancouver to allow outdoor alcohol at four plazas while community centres restart programs

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      In the wake of a few COVID-19 exposure events at nightclubs and bars in Vancouver, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry amended health guidelines for nightlife venues.

      Meanwhile, Vancouver is moving to make it easier for people to enjoy alcohol outdoors during the summer.

      In addition, the Vancouver park board is continuing its ongoing reopening process as its 24 community centres prepare to restart priority programs, including food services.

      Alcohol in public spaces

      The City of Vancouver announced today (July 30) that city council approved a temporary pilot program that will permit people to drink alcohol in four locations.

      The program, which will run from August 10 to mid-October (date not specified), is intended to allow residents who don’t have backyards, balconies, or other private outdoor spaces.

      The locations, to be be managed and monitored with Business Improvement Associations (BIAs), are šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énk Square (Vancouver Art Gallery’s North Plaza), Lot 19 (Hornby and West Hastings streets), Bute-Robson Plaza, and a temporary pop-up plaza at 17th Avenue and Cambie Street. 

      After BIAs had submitted proposals for sites, city staff chose the locations based on criteria in consultation with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Vancouver Police Department. The spaces, which will permit people to bring their own alcohol to consume within specified hours, are all located in proximity to food and transit for safety and visibility considerations. Signs at each site will provide health and safety information, and behaviour rules.

      Data collected from monitoring the sites will assist in policy development for public spaces over the long term.

      This program is separate from a pilot program by the Vancouver park board to allow alcohol consumption at 22 parks across the city, which the board approved on July 28.

      Although that program is slated to run from mid-August to mid-October, in order to proceed, it requires the B.C. government to introduce a temporary regulation under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act.

      Community centres

      Community centres are gearing up to restart priority programs and services on September 8 at the city’s 24 locations.

      Programs will focus on food security, children, youth, and seniors, and range from food hampers and seniors’ lunches to osteofit, seniors yoga, and youth leadership activities.

      These program require registration; may be limited by COVID-19 health and safety measures, including room capacities; and drop-ins will be limited.

      Signs will provide information for health and safety protocols, sanitization will be integrated into scheduling and bookings, and start and end times will be staggered to allow for physical distancing.   

      Details about registration will be available at the City of Vancouver’s COVID-19 webpage when finalized.

      While the park board has reopened numerous outdoor spaces from tennis courts and outdoor pools to golf courses and sports fields, the reopening of gyms, fitness centres, racquet courts, rinks, indoor pools, and pottery and woodworking studios remains to be determined.

      More information about the status of park board services and facilities is available at the Vancouver park board website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.