Pentictonites and visitors alike will be allowed to enjoy a legal drink on the beach for at least the remainder of the summer.
Penticton City Council voted in a 4 to 1 decision Tuesday, July 7 to continue the pilot project to allow liquor consumption in select public places for the remainder of the summer.
The same conditions of the original pilot project will be extended until Oct. 15, 2020.
The program is part of the “love local” campaign. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic the initiative was put in place to support local businesses and encourage people to socialize outdoors where the risk of COVID-19 is lessened.
The one-month pilot project was launched June 2, 2020 to serve as a test and included several areas along the Okanagan Lake waterfront.
City staff conducted a survey of nearly 1,300 residents in search of feedback on the pilot project. The overwhelming majority of participants supported the project on some level.
The majority of residents surveyed supported continuing allowing drinking in public places. (City of Penticton photo)
Between 80 to 90 per cent of the participants visited at least one of the locations where alcohol was permitted. More than three-quarters of participants observed people consuming alcohol responsibly.
City staff and councillors were both pleased with the level of community engagement in the survey.
However, staff did note that poor weather and limited tourists so far this summer may not give an accurate representation of how people will consume liquor on the beach.
“So far people are acting responsibly which is great to see… We’re going to get rid of some of our antiquated liquor laws,” said Coun. Katie Robinson who previously voted against allowing the pilot project but changed her tune after seeing the public’s response.
The only councillor to vote against the motion was Coun. Judy Sentes.
“I’ve received so many phone calls asking that I represent the negative side of the community on this so I can’t support this,” said Sentes.
A special council meeting will be held Wednesday, July 8 at 3:05 p.m. where council will further discuss the bylaw.
Penticton joins North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam as municipalities that are currently experimenting with allowing public drinking in British Columbia.