After taking a sober second look, Port Coquitlam council decided Tuesday afternoon that letting residents have a drink in a park is an idea worth keeping.
In March 2021, council opted to allow residents to have a drink at Peace Park, McLean Park and Dominion Park on a trial basis. Seven other parks were selected on a permanent basis.
How’d it go?
More than one year later, police and city bylaw officers both reported their proactive patrols observed: “people were socially gathering and enjoying park space with family and friends,” according to a city staff report.
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As more Port Coquitlam residents live in multi-family housing, the city’s alcohol policy allows apartment dwellers to invite a friend over for a beer and a barbecue, according to Mayor Brad West.
“For a lot of them, our parks are an extension of their backyard,” West said.
The mayor added that he’s heard of graduation and retirement parties as well as wedding receptions at city parks.
“It’s really opened up our parks to a whole other set of uses and celebration for our community, because most of these things are a little bit better with a beer or a glass of wine, a cider or a cocktail,” he said.
The rules allow for residents to exercise their own sense of responsibility, said Coun. Darrell Penner.
“Children can see . . . this is how to be responsible with alcohol,” he said.
While there have been some complaints, Penner noted that most grievances were related strictly to the fact that people were drinking alcohol in a park, not that they were drinking and acting inappropriately. Other concerns were related to drug paraphernalia and litter, particularly around McLean Park.
But steer clear of playgrounds
In addition to continuing to allow drinking at the three parks, council also moved to restricted the consumption of alcohol within 10 metres of playgrounds due to concerns about broken bottles and discarded beer cans.
No plans for expansion
The selected parks were picked based on response from the community, according to Port Coquitlam city staff. There are currently no plans to expand the program to more parks.
The city also allows drinking at Castle Park, Settlers Park, Gates Park, Lions Park, Aggie Park, Evergreen Park and Cedar Park. Those parks were picked based on having picnic tables and washrooms.