VANCOUVER -- City councillors have approved a temporary pilot project that will allow people to drink alcohol at four public plazas in Vancouver.

The program is designed to give people more ways to socialize outdoors, and to support restaurants while they're forced to operate with reduced capacity.

The four plaza locations were chosen based on their proximity to "food-primary businesses" and access to transit and washrooms. They 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
  • The temporary plaza at Cambie Street and 17th Avenue

The pilot project is proposed to start on Aug. 10 and continue until the second week of October.

Concerns were raised by police and health officials, largely around "the risks of inadvertently enabling binge drinking in public, creating public safety issues by enabling public intoxication, and supporting public gatherings during the COVID pandemic," according to a staff report on the proposal.

Staff said they worked to mitigate those risks in their plan, but will monitor the program and make adjustments as needed.