There’s community spirit and now there can be spirits in the community.
Despite one councillor’s lingering concerns, Coquitlam residents can now legally drink in city parks following a unanimous vote by council Monday.
The city may be passing a “blanket bylaw,” advised Coun. Trish Mandewo.
Besides the risk of drinkers leaving beer cans or wine bottles behind, the bylaw fails to account for drinking around playgrounds, Mandewo said.
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The bylaw states that drinking is allowed in parks “from dawn to dusk.” That language is somewhat open to interpretation, potentially resulting in issues between the city and residents, Mandewo contended.
There is a risk in passing bylaws geared toward the lowest common denominator of behaviour, countered Coun. Brent Asmundson.
“I always worry about always making laws to deal with that very small percentage of people that do stupid things all the time,” he said. “You’re not going to stop that.”
Asmundson emphasized the importance of trusting residents to be responsible, a sentiment also expressed by Coun. Teri Towner.
“They want to have a drink while they’re at the park . . . but they don’t to sneak it and feel like they’re breaking the law,” Towner said.
The bylaw is slated for a review in 2023, Towner added.
“If it goes really badly, then at least we have an end date on it,” she said. “If we have to take away the privileges – which I really hope we won’t – then we will.”
The bylaw is worth trying, said Mayor Richard Stewart.
“I think almost everybody consumes responsibly, particularly when they get out in public,” he said.
Stewart said the city’s “incredible community spirit” flourished on Canada Day, despite some possible bylaw infractions.
“I noticed that some of the people who were celebrating Canada Day felt that the bylaw was a good idea and perhaps jumped the gun on fourth and final reading,” Stewart said. “And they did so responsibly.”
Despite her previous opposition, Mandewo ultimately inclined to support the bylaw.
“If the majority of this council is hearing from people saying: ‘Thank you for doing this,’ then definitely I am hearing from the minority,” she said.
The bylaw applies to all city parks but not to fields operated by School District #43.
Over in Port Coquitlam
Following a one-year trial period, Port Coquitlam council opted to keep on letting residents drink in Peace Park, McLean Park and Dominion Park.
Port Coquitlam also allows drinking at Castle Park, Settlers Park, Gates Park, Lions Park, Aggie Park, Evergreen Park and Cedar Park.