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Kelowna approves alcohol in parks program, yet one councillor doesn’t ‘Love’ it

Council has approved the consumption of alcohol in eight city parks
Kelowna City Councillor Gord Lovegrove. (Photo contributed)

Kelowna City Councillor Gord Lovegrove raised concerns at the May 6 meeting, regarding the approval of alcohol consumption in eight city parks.

Lovegrove was the only councillor opposed to the program.

He questioned the motivation behind allowing alcohol in parks, expressing worries about its impact on youth.

“When they talk about promoting responsible drinking, I worry instead we might end up promoting normalization to youth or the uninformed,” he said.

Lovegrove wanted measures to mitigate potential risks, such as installing signs highlighting the dangers of alcohol and implementing regular monitoring with proactive enforcement.

He pointed out the absence of lifeguard stations at parks where alcohol would be permitted, noting a correlation between alcohol consumption and drownings at beaches.

Lovegrove also said there are plenty of places for people to enjoy a drink in the city and questioned the necessity of expanding the consumption of alcohol in public parks.

“When you’re on a beach with your family and having folks not being responsible beside you, that’s the concern I have.”

He said he’s not convinced the program is needed.

“We are already the capital of alcohol consumption in the entire province.”

A University of Victoria study from 2022/23 revealed that the Interior Health Authority had the highest per capita alcohol use in British Columbia. However, the study did not point to the City of Kelowna directly.

Approved parks include Cedar Creek, Boyce-Gyro Beach, Kinsmen, Rotary Beach, Sarsons, Strathcona, Sutherland Bay, and Waterfront parks.

Boyce-Gyro, Kinsmen, and Waterfront were part of a pilot program approved by the council in 2023.

Certain restrictions will be in place, with alcohol prohibited within 15 meters of playgrounds, residences, sports courts, and fields, parking lots, water bodies, and piers or boardwalks lacking railings.

The program is slated to operate annually from May 15 to Sept. 15, seven days a week, between noon and 9 p.m.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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