The City of Penticton will allow drinking in public spaces. The decision was made Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in a virtual city council meeting. (BC Ale Trail photo)

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Drinking alcohol in Penticton’s public spaces will be allowed starting, June 3.

During a June 2 meeting, City of Penticton councillors voted to allow the public to drink alcohol in designated areas only.

This one-month pilot project will serve as a test and includes several areas along the Okanagan Lake waterfront.

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project. The motion was finalized with a vote of 4-2, with Couns. Katie Robinson and Judy Sentes opposed.

The pilot project will take place from June 3 to July 4, noon to 8 p.m.

The originally proposed areas allowing consumption of alcohol included from the SS Sicamous, along Okanagan Beach (excluding the walkway) to Rotary Park, including Gyro Park, Okanagan Lake Park and Marina Way Park.

This was later amended to exclude Gyro Park and SS Sicamous Park, and start at Power St. Council also requested weekly updates from staff.

A proposal by Coun. Robinson to postpone the start of the pilot project for two weeks, to allow for more public consultation, was defeated. In debate Coun. Julius Bloomfield opposed to the delay and cited the need to start the pilot project now as well as obtain objective data.

If things go “sideways” and bylaw and RCMP receive more calls, the city’s director of development services Blake Laven explained the council can cancel the pilot.

Mayor of Penticton, John Vassilaki, who owns a local liquor store, excused himself from the discussion due to conflict of interest.

The idea to lift the restrictions on public drinking was first proposed by Coun. Campbell Watt in a previous council meeting.

Watt’s reasoning for the lift on restrictions is to support local breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants while also allowing people to enjoy food and drinks in an outdoor setting amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Before voting, councillors discussed the proposal extensively and were divided on the topic. Some highlighted concerns and others noted it as a positive addition to the town.

Some said there is a need to update “archaic” liquor laws and allow people to enjoy a drink on the beach.

Coun. Robinson had several concerns, including that this could result in increased strain on police and bylaw.

Coun. Bloomfield said there has been a generational shift in how people drink, and that the cultural atmosphere is much less problematic. He said he’s willing to give it a try.

Coun. Campbell Watt was in favour of the proposal.

“I think what we have right now is an opportunity to allow responsible adults to be responsible adults,” said Watt.

Coun. Frank Regehr was in favour but highlighted the need to divide the beach into designated drinking, and non-drinking areas.

Coun. Sentes said this is ‘not the time’ to bring this forward, as they already have enough on their plates.

“I don’t think it (alcohol) has a place there (beaches),” she said, suggesting people who want to drink should stick to places that serve it, like restaurants.

Gyro Park was eliminated without much debate as councillors noted it is a place where families gather.

The city received comments in support from residents and the business community but also concerns from the public health perspective by Interior Health, and Pathways, as well as concerns with minors, litter, and addictions.

Beginning June 10, for two weeks, the city will start to obtain public feedback on how the new project is working.

The findings of this public input will be presented to council for a decision on July 7.

Food and Drink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

AlleyCATS Okanagan: Pet of the week

Add a little Spritz and Cider to your summer

Kelowna’s COVID-19 cluster jumps to 13 cases

Several areas of the city were exposed to the virus

Air Canada’s non-stop Kelowna to Toronto flights set to resume August 2

Air Canada halted much of its non-stop routes in March due to COVID-19

Rare comet NEOWISE and aurora lights captured in Okanagan

The image was captured over Big Horn Lake near Kelowna with a Pixel 4XL android phone

‘We know people are going to come to Kelowna’: Basran addresses COVID-19 cluster

The mayor said people need to continue following the advice of the medical health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

‘Resistance’ from Interior Health puts races in Penticton on hold

It’s unknown if races planned for this weekend at the Penticton Speedway will take place

Fundraiser kick-started for Vernon woman battling tongue cancer

Woman’s four-year-old twins are the driving force behind her fight

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Oliver Town Hall reopens to public as COVID-19 test comes back negative

Town Hall was closed briefly as a staff member showed multiple COVID-19 symptoms

Lake Country beachgoers reminded to maintain distance amid COVID-19

Signage, park rangers, park patrol students in place to monitor busy beaches in Central Okanagan

RCMP to investigate hate-motivated vandalism in Summerland

Swastikas and other graffiti spray painted on house and at bandshell

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Most Read