New Westminster is the latest Lower Mainland city to announce it will allow drinking in some city parks, but there will be no relaxing of the rules in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said parks will remain a good place for parents to take their kids.
“We would encourage people to support our local businesses – we’ve got a lot of patios now,” said Morden. “And our parks are places for families.”
The question arises because of what’s happening in neighbouring cities, making changes allowed under changed provincial laws. The new Consumption of Liquor in Public Spaces Bylaw takes effect in New West, permitting adults to drink responsibly between 11 a.m. until dusk, seven days a week in designated zones in seven parks including Queen’s Park and Westminster Pier Park on the waterfront.
“As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw many of our neighbouring municipalities successfully support alcohol consumption in their local parks,” said New West Mayor Jonathan Coté. “The adoption of this new bylaw is intended to encourage our residents to enjoy our outdoor spaces and socialize safely. It also creates an opportunity to support our local establishments by ordering both food and beverages.”
Other cities, including Vancouver, North Vancouver, Delta and Chilliwack have either allowed public consumption or have pilot projects.
Morden said when Maple Ridge has engaged with stakeholders – such as the Ridge Meadows RCMP, Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association – there has been no recommendation to city hall that allowing liquor consumption in parks is a consideration at this time.
He also noted people using both Whonnock Lake and the Alouette River for recreation have left big messes in their wake in recent years.
“People have been incredibly disrespectful.”
Pitt Meadows Mayor Bill Dingwall said this issue is not a priority for his council.
“It’s not in our plans this year at all. Council hasn’t discussed it,” said Dingwall.
He said with the expansion of CP Rail operations in the city, a pending new police detachment, development in the North Lougheed area and other important issues, city staff doesn’t have time for this one. He said a review of the impacts on local businesses would be just one consideration for staff to look at.
Dingwall said in years past, Pitt Meadows Days saw a lot of alcohol consumption, with public drunkenness, fights, and generally not a family atmosphere.
“It was almost a free-for-all,” he said. “It was a real handful for police to control that.”
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