A pilot project to permit limited outdoor alcohol consumption in three Langley City locations won preliminary approval by a unanimous vote of council Monday, May 31.
The program would allow consumption of liquor in selected parks and facilities on Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. beginning July 1 and ending on Sep. 30.
Selected sites for the Langley City pilot would be McBurney Plaza, parts of Douglas Park, and picnic shelters at City Park.
Coun. Nathan Pachal, chair of the municipal Crime Prevention Task Group, called it a “modest start” that would allow “adults to be adults” and encourage business.
Coun. Rudy Storteboom said it was a “big step” given the City has, in the past, been reluctant to approve outdoor beer gardens.
“I do have a concern about drinking and driving,” especially whether the City might be liable, Storteboom asked.
Chief Administrative Officer Francis Cheung, author of a report recommending the pilot project, said liability hasn’t been an issue with other communities that opened up parks.
In response to a question from Mayor Val van den Broek, Cheung said in the event of problems, the pilot could be cancelled at the discretion of council.
“Council can, at any time, repeal the bylaw,” Cheung noted.
As well, the bylaw will automatically expire at the end of September, Cheung told council.
City bylaw officers and security will be working “hand-in-hand” with RCMP to monitor drinking, he added.
People who consume outside the designated zones will be “respectfully” asked to return to the permitted areas,, Cheung related, and if they refuse, they will be told to leave.
Coun. Rosemary Wallace said the City should be “cognisant and aware” of the temptation outdoor drinking could pose for people with alcohol dependency.
Coun. Paul Albrecht said it would be “naive” to think illegal outdoor drinking isn’t already going on, but “I like to think this shows some respect for our mature and responsible adults in the community.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of municipalities in Metro Vancouver have introduced bylaws that permit consumption of liquor in selected parks “with varying degrees of limitation and duration, to provide positive leisure activities and to foster community spirit and connection,” the Cheung report to council outlined.
Port Coquitlam and North Vancouver launched similar projects in 2020 and the feedback from these communities has been positive, the report added.
An on-line survey will be carried out during the pilot program to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on the pilot program.
It will come back to council for final approval at the next regular meeting on June 14.
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