Booze on the beach next summer as Vancouver Park Board approves pilot

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – You may soon be able to enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine at a Vancouver beach — legally. Although, it might not be the way you had in mind.

The Vancouver Park Board unanimously approved a concession strategy plan Monday night, which includes alcohol sales at English Bay and Kitsilano Beach concessions on a trial basis.

If there are no logistical bumps in the road, staff are optimistic the two-year pilot could start as soon as next year. It would be done beer-garden style, with drinkers in a designated, cordoned off area.

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“The opportunity to go to the beach or to the park and have a glass of wine or a glass of beer is something that I have heard over and over again of there’s a desire for that,” said Chair Stuart MacKinnon, acknowledging it’s not a secret he’s had concerns with alcohol sales in the past.

The two-year pilot will test how feasible it is to offer alcohol at the other 11 concessions.

The full strategy plan looks to improve all of the Park Board’s concessions. Revamped menu choices and converting some seasonal concessions to year-round cafes are also part of the plan.

Park Board staff estimate booze sales would increase revenue at the two concessions by 30 to 50 per cent.

“I’ve been complaining for years about the lack of funding from the City of Vancouver, the Park Board, and the continuing budgetary problems that we have with our operational budget. So, I think sometimes we have to look for ways to have some revenue,” said Commissioner John Coupar.

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A 2016 survey found nearly eight in 10 people support the sale of alcohol at concessions.

“You have 16 per cent of people that disagree and 79 per cent of people that are in favour and you see a lot of the public opinion polls and discussion around doing it more broadly — and everybody knows you’re already bringing wine and a beer to the beach,” said Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung, who added the 1970s were a long time ago.

Findings of the pilot would be reported back to the Park Board, at which point a full permanent roll-out for other concessions will be considered.

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