You may soon be able to enjoy a lawful drink on Penticton’s beaches.
The city is looking into the possibility of licensing certain public spaces to permit alcohol consumption during set hours.
The current penalty for public consumption of alcohol is a $100 fine.
The idea to lift the restrictions on public drinking was first proposed by Coun. Campell Watt in a recent council meeting.
Watt’s reasoning for the lift on restrictions is to support local breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants while also allowing people to enjoy food and drinks in an outdoor setting amid COVID-19 restrictions, explained the city’s director of development services, Blake Laven.
Some restaurants are beginning to reopen as COVID-19 restrictions ease, but it’s likely that they won’t be able to operate at full capacity this summer.
Laven explained that the city is looking at multiple parks and beaches across the city as potential sites where drinking would be allowed. “The idea is to spread it out a bit more to not make it a big event or anything,” he said.
“As Penticton is home to 30 wineries, seven breweries and two distilleries, staff are preparing options for council to consider allowing locals and guests to enjoy those products in our beautiful outdoors,” he said. “If council approves the pilot, all rules of the BC Liquor Act, including responsible behaviour, still apply.”
Laven and other city staff have been working on a plan to implement legal public drinking since a May 19 council meeting.
City staff are expected to present their recommendations to council at its June 2 meeting. If council approves staff’s plan a five-week pilot project could start June 5.
“We wanted to set this up as pilot so we could see what the impact is, monitor the situation, and then also get feedback from residents to see what their impressions are,” said Laven.
After the five-week pilot, council will make a decision to either continue to allow drinking in public places or to end it, depending on the outcome.
“It could be a big disaster, who knows,” Laven said. “I think if there’s a few incidents and we’re getting increased RCMP and bylaw calls it’s easy enough to just close it and abandon it.”
The city is currently seeking the public’s feedback on this and various other issues and encourage residents to share their opinions by visiting ShapeYourCityPenticton.ca.