Public drinking now allowed in 4 city plazas in Vancouver
VANCOUVER -- Cracking a cold beer or having a glass of wine —legally — is now a reality at four public plazas in Vancouver, as part of a two month pilot project launched by the city on Monday.
The aim of the pilot isn't to turn the plazas to booze-fuelled party-zones, but to allow people to socialize outdoors safely during the pandemic, something especially targeted at people who may not have their own private outdoor space like a patio.
The four plazas were chosen due to their proximity to restaurants, and access to transit and washrooms.
The locations are:
- the north plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery;
- the plaza at Hornby and Hastings streets, near the Vancouver Convention Centre;
- the converted "pavement-to-plaza" at Bute and Robson streets; and
- the temporary plaza at Cambie Street and 17th Avenue.
At the art gallery plaza, alcohol is allowed to be consumed between noon and 9 p.m. seven days a week. At the three other locations the drinking is allowed between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m.
A staff report from the indicates Vancouver police and health officials had previously expressed concern to about the idea, including issues around public intoxication and binge-drinking, and supporting public gatherings during the pandemic.
The city said it planned to mitigate those risks in its plan, and would monitor the program as needed.
In an email to CTV News Monday, Vancouver police said they will be monitoring activity and will work with the city as needed.
"Public safety is always our priority, enforcement will be done as usual when dealing with any drinking locations," Sgt. Aaron Roed wrote. "We are not anticipating any major issues but do have plans in place if anything should happen."
The pilot will be monitored by city staff, police and local business improvement associations.
Charles Gauthier with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association says he is pleased to see the project moving ahead.
"Cities all over the world have been doing this for a very long time, so it's long overdue. It took COVID-19 to make it a reality."
The DVBIA will be monitoring the effects on local restaurants and nearby restrooms, and also checking into any issues around trash and recycling.
"Remember we are still in a neighbourhood," Gauthier said. "Act in a responsible way and be respectful."
Signage with the rules and hours have been put up in all four plazas.
The pilot project is getting a warm welcome from many locals.
"As long as everyone is respectful and tidies up after themselves, it's great," one woman told CTV News.
"As long as people are being sensible and people are enjoying themselves. And obviously with the pandemic it seems a healthier choice than being crowded in bars and things like that. I think it's a great idea," another man added.
The pilot in Vancouver follows other Metro Vancouver cities like North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam in allowing alcohol in some designated areas.
On Monday North Vancouver RCMP said there had been no major issues and people had been generally respecting the rules since the changes took effect earlier this summer.
Vancouver's alcohol pilot will wrap up in mid-October.
The city has created an online survey for those who want to leave feedback on the project.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel and Angela Jung