Delta council is set to consider a new bylaw Monday allowing alcohol consumption at four local parks this summer.
Last month, Delta council unanimously endorsed a motion by Coun. Dylan Kruger directing staff to report back with a plan to implement a pilot project allowing the responsible consumption of alcohol in select local parks.
The bylaw to be considered Monday sets out the details of the program, including where and when alcohol can be legally consumed.
According to a report by Delta staff, the pilot project will run from June 1 through Sept. 30, seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to dusk at North Delta Community Park and Sunstone Park in North Delta, Memorial Park in Ladner and Diefenbaker Park in Tsawwassen.
The report states the four parks have associated amenities — public washrooms, picnic tables and/or shelters — that will support the pilot project, with the exception of Sunstone, which does not have washrooms onsite. For the duration of the pilot, portable washrooms will be brought onsite. Additional waste receptacles and recycling containers will also be placed at each location.
Only some parts of the parks will be so-called “alcohol allowed zones,” however. At North Delta Community Park, for example, alcohol consumption will only be allowed between the concession stand/washroom building and the east edge of the park and between the softball diamond and tennis court to the north and the softball diamond to the south, with no alcohol allowed in the children’s playground.
At Sunstone Park, alcohol consumption will be allowed from the entrance on the west side of the park to near the private clubhouse to the east and from Delsom Crescent to the northern edge of the pond. However, alcohol will not be allowed in the playground area, on the basketball court, on either of the small piers, in the plaza between the larger pier and the basketball court, or on the trail around the pond.
Signage will be placed at the main entrances to each park, with additional signs adjacent to playgrounds to ensure the public knows those areas are “alcohol free zones.”
During the pilot program, parks staff, bylaw enforcement officers and DPD officers will routinely patrol each park on a daily basis and at varying times.
The public will be able to provide comment about the pilot project through an online survey, as well as via the city’s social media channels.
Delta’s proposed pilot program is based on similar successful projects in Port Coquitlam and North Vancouver last summer.
In February, based on strong approval from a public survey, Port Coquitlam city council agreed to permanently permit drinking in the seven parks included in last year’s pilot program, and to conduct a second pilot program at three others this summer.
“Last year’s pilot was an unquestionable success — almost nine out of 10 people surveyed approved of the program and asked us to continue or expand it to more parks,” Mayor Brad West said in press release Feb. 17.
“People told us they were happy to be able to responsibly and safely enjoy a drink with family and friends, and to be treated like adults, as we see in many countries around the world. We saw our parks come alive last summer as people of all ages were able to safely use our parks to feel a sense of community and less isolation.”
According to a press release, about 86 per cent of the 573 survey respondents had a “good” experience during the pilot and wanted it to continue. Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed were Port Coquitlam residents and almost two-thirds were age 40 or up.
Positive feedback about the program included that it fostered a sense of community, allowed people to gather and play games in a socially-distanced safe way and reduced feelings of isolation. Feedback also included requests to expand the program to other parks.
Those with concerns about the program generally commented that parks are not an appropriate place for drinking, and cited the potential for litter, noise, excessive consumption and inappropriate behaviour.
During the pilot, PoCo bylaw staff conducted proactive patrols and found that people were generally gathering safely and enjoying the parks with family and friends, with no reports of “undesirable behaviour” or bylaw breaches.
Further, RCMP advised the city they had no concerns arising from the pilot.
The city’s parks department did note more garbage and recycling in the seven pilot sites, but the release states this was the case in all Port Coquitlam parks, which experienced notably increased use last year.