White Rock council has ruled out allowing liquor consumption in Memorial Park, originally proposed by the White Rock BIA as a measure for supporting take-out food business during COVID-19. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock nixes idea of liquor in Memorial Park

Council halts proposal to allow alcohol in waterfront picnic area

White Rock council this week shot down any possibility of allowing alcoholic beverages at the picnic table area in Memorial Park, citing a lack of public support for the measure, as well as potential difficulties in managing it.

At the June 1 meeting, council discussed a request from the White Rock BIA to allow liquor consumption in public places to support and enhance outdoor dining during the COVID-19 pandemic. Council had requested a corporate report identifying the waterfront park, across Marine Drive from the West Beach restaurant strip, as a potential location.

In the report, submitted to council on Monday night (July 13), staff recommended information on the measure be submitted to the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force for further input.

But council instead took the option not to proceed further with the proposal, supporting a motion from Coun. Scott Kristjanson; with Coun. Erika Johanson casting the sole opposing vote.

“I don’t think I hear from the public that we really have an appetite for this at the moment,” Kristjanson said, adding that while he would welcome hearing the task force’s views, he would likely vote against allowing liquor in the park.

READ MORE: Liquor permission considered for White Rock’s Memorial Park

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Coun. Anthony Manning was among councillors who shared Kristjanson’s view that the proposal should go no further.

“We’ve seen a number of municipalities across the Lower Mainland consider this and either defeat it, or postpone it,” he said, noting that while the City of Vancouver had been initially enthusiastic, a proposal there is “still being passed around council.”

He also pointed out that while the City of North Vancouver passed a similar proposal, “they have a very different situation than we have here,” and went on to note the concerns voiced by Coun. David Chesney at the June 1 meeting.

“I, certainly, would advocate that the sensible consumption of alcohol, by adults, is fine,” Chesney had said at that time.

“But looking at the history of White Rock, it’s a party town, it’s a party destination… oh, my God, the mess we’re going to have.”

On Monday, Chesney agreed there seemed to be no significant community appetite for the move since it had been proposed.

He also pointed to White Rock RCMP input to the report which had underlined that the detachment could only favour extending liquor consumption to areas immediately adjacent to existing restaurant businesses, providing the emphasis was on liquor as an accompaniment to meals.

“Not a public drinking area, or, as the RCMP referred to it, a beer garden, which is exactly what I think this would turn into,” Chesney said.

“The picnic tables down there are being well-used, it’s a great family environment… the businesses are doing fine down there. I don’t support bringing alcohol into that mix.”

Coun. Christopher Trevelyan said he felt that while extending approval for liquor to the picnic area was a “fantastic idea” in theory, there could be no practical way of guaranteeing moderate consumption of wine or beer with meals only.

“This is a huge can of worms, very difficult to police, very difficult to enforce,” he said. “In principle I love it, but when you get to the details it’s very, very difficult to manage effectively.”

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