Beachgoers in Vancouver could potentially see alcoholic beverages and a host of cuisines added to the menus of beachside food concessions in the near future, if this is what residents in the city desire.
The Vancouver Park Board is surveying local residents on how they can improve and diversify food and beverage options in an apparent effort to modernize beachside facilities and keep people at the beach for longer durations.
Among the questions, the survey asks respondents whether they would approve the conversion of one or more of the beach concessions into a table-service cafe. This could potentially allow a greater variety of menu items and cuisines, such as French, Italian, Chinese, Pan Asian, Japanese, Indian, and Mediterranean, which are all options in the survey’s list.
Specific menu item options include specialty coffees, desserts, poutine, salads, ribs, pizza, and sandwiches and salads from bars.
Of special note, there is also a question on whether alcoholic beverages should be allowed at the beach: “If provided in a responsible manner, do you agree or disagree with the sale of alcoholic beverages at Vancouver Beach Parks concessions?”
In some jurisdictions elsewhere in the world, alcoholic beverages are permitted in public spaces such as parks and beaches. While public drinking is forbidden in British Columbia, there is a little-known provision that allows municipal governments to designate public areas where drinking is allowed.
However, no municipality has exercised this provision, which will likely be necessary in order for the Park Board to be able to expand its beverage options to include alcohol.
Alcoholic beverage sales at the beach could prove to be a lucrative source of revenue for the Park Board. For instance, the Park Board already generates approximately $250,000 annually from bottled water sales at its facilities.
The Park Board has hired a consultant to develop a business strategy for its 12 seasonal concessions operated between April and October. The only concession that operates on a year-round basis is at the Information Booth in Stanley Park.
Most of the concession facilities are dated and in need of upgrades; the only concession facility that has received upgrades recently is the Spanish Banks East concession.
There are currently two privately-operated full-service restaurants with seasonal concession stands at Vancouver’s beaches. The Boathouse, previously Watermark, has operated since 2005 at Kitsilano Beach and Cactus Club Cafe at English Bay opened in 2012.
Both restaurant chains privately funded the construction of their own structures, which received much public scrutiny during the design process. They are now operating on public lands by fulfilling an annual lease and providing a portion of their annual revenues to the Park Board.
A third privately-operated restaurant on Park Board lands has been approved for the Coal Harbour seawall at Harbour Green Park immediately west of the Vancouver Convention Centre. Last fall, the Park Board selected the joint venture by Sequoia Company of Restaurants Inc. and McDougall Holdings Ltd. to build and operate the restaurant.