The District of Saanich is looking at allowing liquor consumption in parks and other public spaces. (pexels.com/Engin Akyurt)

Vancouver Island community considers allowing alcohol in parks

Push on in Saanich after North Vancouver gives pilot project the green light

Saanich residents may soon have the chance to crack a cold one with friends in local parks.

The City of North Vancouver recently became the first municipality in B.C. to implement a bylaw allowing liquor consumption in some public spaces and Saanich is working on doing the same.

Under the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, municipalities and regional districts already have the authority to outline where liquor can be consumed providing the bylaw outlines the hours when consumption is allowed and that signs are posted in the permitted spaces.

READ ALSO: Pool deck turns patio as Saanich restaurant cooks up creative outdoor seating options

On June 1, North Vancouver adopted a bylaw allowing liquor consumption in six parks and in several other public spaces. The bylaw – considered a pilot project – will be in effect seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. until Oct. 15. North Vancouver staff will post signs indicating when and where alcohol can be consumed by those of legal age.

The notion of allowing alcohol in public spaces is something Saanich has been looking at, said Mayor Fred Haynes.

READ ALSO: Saanich looks to help restaurants increase capacity with outdoor seating

After the topic was raised by Coun. Zac de Vries on May 25 as part of a business resumption plan, council directed staff to report back with options for allowing this, he explained.

Haynes expects a report will come to council in the next few weeks in the form of a pilot project with a “built-in review process.” He added that while the work of other municipalities is frequently used as a reference, Saanich is home to 170 parks so the matter will need District-specific consideration.

“I, for one, will certainly be supporting this,” Haynes said.

He feels it’s a “very positive idea” and said “there’s clearly community interest.” Haynes pointed out that allowing alcohol consumption in parks would permit physically-distanced social gatherings that may not be able to take place safely in backyards or homes. Getting outdoors and seeing friends, he noted, will greatly improve residents’ mental health.

READ ALSO: UVic study finds warning labels reduce alcohol consumption

Haynes acknowledged that there is “also community concern” that needs to be addressed when it comes to alcohol in parks. Behaviour would need to be monitored and Haynes suggested some kind of “carry in, carry out” policy when it comes to cans and bottles.

“Saanich residents are known to be very responsible” so Haynes feels that overall, this would be a positive move for the District. Currently, drinking alcohol in Saanich parks is only permitted with a special occasion liquor licence obtained with prior approval from the parks manager.


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