Vancouver city council considers four public spots for legal alcohol consumption

With summer approaching and B.C. pubs still closed to indoor drinking and dining, the City of Vancouver has once again identified a selection of public plazas where legal alcohol consumption will be permitted.

The city started its BYOB plaza pilot project last summer with four outdoor sites — three downtown and one midtown — as a response to COVID-19, which limited people’s ability to socialize indoors in homes, bars and restaurants.

Drinking was allowed at the four sites from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

One summer later and faced with the same problem, the city will vote next Tuesday to allow legal alcohol consumption at the new public plaza at 800 Robson St. on the southside of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and three temporary pop-up plazas at Cambie Street and 17th Avenue, Fraser Street and 27th Avenue, and 4th Avenue and Maple Street. The Cambie pop-up is the only returning site from last summer, although BYOB drinking was allowed on the northside of the art gallery last year.

The city has partnered with three different business improvement association and an independent restaurant, Say Mercy! at 298 Fraser St., on the project.

“In general, preferred sites for this pilot are smaller neighbourhood-scale plazas within commercial areas or delineated portions of larger plazas. The pilot encourages sites that are within walking distance to food-primary businesses, public transit and overnight parking facilities, while aiming to stay away from sensitive areas such as hospital or health-care facilities, or residential-only areas,” city staff wrote in a report to council.

If the motion is passed, the pilot is expected to run from May 31 to Oct. 11.

Meanwhile, those wishing to have a beer in a Vancouver park will still have to wait until some red tape gets sorted out between the Vancouver park board and the provincial government before they can legally toss one back.

The park board approved a plan last summer to allow booze in 22 parks and beaches around the city, but that plan remains on-hold because, as Canada’s only city with an elected park board, it needed an amendment to the B.C. Liquor Control Act to push ahead with the project.

The park board, which passed on a chance to get the amendment fast-tracked by the Attorney-General’s Office, is still waiting for the necessary legislative change to be addressed in Victoria.

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