Vancouver’s ABC promises to make alcohol in parks permanent if elected

Drinking alcohol in Vancouver parks has become a civic election issue.

ABC Vancouver has announced it’ll permanently allow alcohol consumption in all of the city’s parks if it gets a majority on the park board in the Oct. 15 vote.

The pilot program Vancouver brought in earlier this year, which is set to end on Oct. 16, only allows legal consumption of alcohol at 22 parks of the city’s greenspaces. ABC is promising to more than triple the number of parks.

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ABC says the pilot “has been so successful” thus far, suggesting that if it does make the move permanent, it would also bring in “adequate facilities.”

“It is a waste of Park Board resources to be ticketing the behaviour of responsible adults,” said ABC park board candidate Scott Jensen. “It should not be a crime for somebody to enjoy a beer or wine with their picnic.”

The party says it would also bring in a pilot program to allow drinking on the city’s beaches, which is currently not allowed.

“We have seen no noticeable increase in the number of alcohol-related public safety issues in parks covered under the pilot,” said Jensen “That is why an ABC majority on Park Board will be asking staff to initiate a supervised pilot program allowing consumption of alcohol on Vancouver beaches.”

In addition to expanding alcohol consumption plans, ABC says its park board members would also work to reallocate resources to improve maintenance at parks and beaches.

The Ken Sim-led party has nominated 19 candidates in the upcoming civic election. That includes six park board candidates.

This is the second summer in a row Vancouver has piloted alcohol consumption at several of its greenspaces. However, this year, many of the designated drinking areas were larger than in 2021.

Currently, alcohol is allowed at the designated sites from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Vancouver has long been criticized for its rules and slow action around alcohol in parks.

While people have been drinking alcohol at Vancouver parks and beaches regardless of whether it’s legal or not, the push to legalize was emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic, with options to go out limited at the beginning of the health crisis.

-With files from Monika Gul

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