News / Vancouver

Poll: Should drinking be allowed on Vancouver beaches?

Public drinking and intoxication are already legal in Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Japan -- so should B.C. follow suit and end the days of covert liquid picnics?

A Vancouver advocacy group calling for responsible reform of B.C.'s liquor laws certainly thinks so. They are anxiously awaiting the start of a review of the laws by the province so they can pitch the idea of a pilot project to legalize drinking on select Vancouver beaches.

Jeremy McElroy with the Campaign for Culture says the strongest argument for letting people enjoy adult beverages on beaches and in public parks is that they're already doing it.

"People do it quite frequently, especially in the summer," he said.

"...What ends up happening is... the police end up spending time patrolling the beach, looking through coolers and searching adults for liquor: something they're legally able to purchase at stores, legally able to consume in their own homes and licensed establishments, and it really ruins that experience."

For the first time since 1999, his idea might actually have a shot at becoming reality. That was the last time the province held a comprehensive review of liquor policies.

Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap, parliamentary secretary to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, has been mandated by the Premier to immediately begin looking at ways to modernize B.C.'s liquor laws, and said he is open to suggestions.

"In the coming months, I will begin reaching out to stakeholders and the public to hear from them directly," Yap said in an email to Metro. "We're also working on a new website that will allow the public to engage with us directly on their ideas."

If the province eventually decides to open the door to such a pilot project, it will still have to pass muster with the City of Vancouver, which has its own layer of red tape.

McElroy said that's exactly what he wants to see, since city staff are better equipped than grassroots organizations to research best practices.

"We're doing as much research as possible, and whatever is available to us we'll use, but really, we're here to encourage work to get done and that research and those policy ideas to come back from the City," he said.

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