VANCOUVER -- Vancouver residents might soon be allowed to legally drink in some parks, as the city's park board will vote on a pilot program next week.

On Monday, a proposal will be before the Vancouver Park Board for a trial run to allow liquor consumption in 10 parks. 

Allowing drinking in Vancouver parks has been an ongoing discussion – both at city council and with the park board – for more than a year and a half.

A motion was first approved by the park board at the end of 2018 to consider a pilot program. Then, last month, an amended motion was approved encouraging that pilot project to be launched as soon as possible. 

"The discussion around allowing alcohol consumption in parks has become more timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the physical distancing required in response," a report from the park board's general manager says. 

"The pandemic has limited the ability of Vancouverites to socialize with their friends and family, however, as restrictions in B.C. ease, public health officials advise that socializing outdoors at safe distances reduces risk of virus transmission."

As part of the pilot, specific sections in just 10 parks have been selected for the trial:

  • Fraser River
  • John Hendry (Trout Lake)
  • Harbour Green
  • Locarno Beach
  • Memorial South
  • New Brighton
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • Quilchena
  • Stanley
  • Vanier

The general manager's report said some of the reasons for those sites being selected include high visibility, an even distribution across the city, public facilities including washrooms, cycling or transit access and not being near schools. 

If the pilot launches, it could be ready to run as early as mid-July and would go until Oct. 12. Drinking would only be allowed from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. 

Vancouver's not the only city that's been easing its public drinking restrictions during the pandemic. Last month, Port Coquitlam launched a pilot program allowing drinking at seven local parks. North Vancouver approved its own pilot program at nine public spaces. Both of those pilot projects also wrap up in October.