Despite one councillor’s concerns about nasty aftereffects, Port Moody residents can now enjoy alcoholic beverages at city parks, following a unanimous vote from council Tuesday.
While it might seem like a “summer feel-good initiative for most,” Coun. Hunter Madsen said he was reluctant to support the plan even on a temporary basis.
“I have a bad feeling . . . about how that much booze in circulation might change the general character of Rocky Point as a family-focused venue,” Madsen said.
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Madsen emphasized the dangers of alcohol.
“It’s really on a par with drinking benzene, eating charcoal and snorting asbestos,” he said.
The rules can be amended following the six-month pilot project, responded Coun. Zoe Royer.
“I don’t drink. . . . A council member talked about snorting asbestos – I don’t do that either. I don’t think I know anyone that does,” she said. “I actually think that we can go ahead with this pilot.”
Drinking alcohol is still not allowed in any parks shared with School District #43, on trails, or within 10 metres of playgrounds.
Drinking is permitted in the following parks from 11 a.m. to dusk:
- Rocky Point Park
- Old Orchard Park
- Pioneer Memorial Park (excluding the Labyrinth Healing Garden)
- Kyle Centre pop-up park
- Trasolini Field spectator stands
- Inlet Field spectator stands
- Queens Street Plaza
Mayor Rob Vagramov questioned the inclusion of spectator stands.
“We already know of how competitive . . . some parents get when their kids are playing,” he said.
While some sites were chosen due to bathroom proximity, spectator stands were picked due to city staff’s conclusion that: “Watching a game is something that a lot of people enjoy with a beverage.”
Given that many residents don’t want to see drinking in parks, Vagramov asked if bylaw officers could instruct some drinkers “not to make it so obvious,” particularly if they’re knocking back tall boys.
Bylaw officers can ask drinkers to be more discrete but have no authority to require that discretion, according to city staff.
While making clear that he opposed prohibition, Vagramov said some residents may be struggling with addiction.
“If you can’t go for a walk in your local park and not have triggers for debilitating alcohol addiction, I struggle to think of where you could go,” he said.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, Coun. Meghan Lahti said, noting that many neighbouring communities have already allowed drinking in parks. Reasonable consumption of liquor in parks has been approved in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam.
The Port Moody Police Department didn’t voice any concerns with allowing drinking in parks but recommended barring alcohol consumption on trails due to the logistical challenges and safety issues associated with having police officers hike out to address incidents.
“I’m OK if we nix the trails,” Coun. Steve Milani said, explaining that he’d once seen parks staff being “aggressively pursued by a drunk on the trail.”
City staff are slated to report back on the pilot program in early 2023.