The City of Chilliwack is set to become the latest municipality in the region to allow drinking in public parks, as part of a pilot project which is set to begin this summer.
In a release, the city said the plan has received all necessary readings need to draft a bylaw, which is expected to be adopted during an August 18 council meeting.
Once the project is in place, it will run until October 31 of this year.
The pilot project will be launched at Vedder and Crossing parks, and the city said additional picnic tables and garbage facilities will be added to the selected parks to accommodate the designated areas where responsible liquor consumption will be permitted.
The pilot project will permit “responsible” consumption in designated areas between noon and 9 pm daily. The boundaries of each area will be marked by fencing and signage will clearly display the hours of operation, boundaries, and rules of use. No glass bottles or containers will be allowed. Signage to remind residents of the importance of physical distancing will also be installed, and staff will monitor the designated areas as part of their regular patrols.
“Many communities around the world, and other BC municipalities have implemented similar initiatives in their public spaces,” said Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove. “We know that spending time outdoors is safer than indoors right now, and we hope this pilot project fosters a new way for people to safely and responsibly connect.”
The city is also seeking preliminary feedback on the upcoming pilot project through an online survey, available until August 23. Residents can share their initial thoughts online.
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Meanwhile in Vancouver, the Vancouver Park Board finally passed a motion recently to allow alcohol consumption at 22 designated sites in the city.
But according to Vancouver Park Board Commissioner Dave Demers, Vancouver has another barrier to public drinking legalization: Under the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Act, “municipalities and regional districts” could designate public zones for alcohol consumption. The problem is that Vancouver parks and beaches are not governed by a municipality, they are governed by the Vancouver Park Board which is neither a “municipality” nor a “regional district.”
As such, due to the language in the Act, provincial intervention is still required. The problem here, according to Demers is that the provincial legislative agenda is full until the end of August and it’s unlikely that the province will make the necessary legislative amendments before the end of summer.
With files from Mo Amir.