What is a designated drinking site and when is it happening?

    A designated drinking site is a specified area within a park that allows people to responsibly and respectfully enjoy their own alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and spirits. These sites are a new and temporary measure and will be in effect from July 12, 2021, to October 11, 2021. Drinking will be allowed from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm daily.

    Where is this initiative coming from?

    In late 2018, the Board directed Parks staff to conduct a feasibility study for a pilot project to allow the public to consume their own alcoholic beverages in select park sites. In 2020, the motion became particularly timely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased the demand for outdoor spaces where the risk of transmission reduced, and there is more space for physical distancing.

    In summer 2020, the pilot project was approved for 22 park sites across the city but at the time could not be implemented due to legal restrictions in the Liquor Control & Licensing Act (LCLA) at the Provincial level. 

    In June 2021, the Province amended the Act which provided the Park Board the authority to permit alcohol consumption in certain park spaces. Since then, the Board has enacted the by-laws that allow the public to consume their alcohol beverages at designated drinking sites.

    Where are the designated drinking sites?

    The drinking sites are located within 22 parks across the city. The boundaries for each site are different and are chosen to eliminate overlap with essential park space uses such playgrounds, sports fields, ecological restoration zones, community gardens, and more. Alcohol can only be legally consumed in these parks, within the permitted sites and times:

    How were these pilot sites determined?

    The Park Board selected 22 parks for this pilot to reflect the neighbourhoods in Vancouver. By and large, there is one (or two) parks within each neighbourhood, with the aim of providing spaces for residents all around the city.

    The parks (and designated drinking sites within each) were selected as they met the following set of criteria:

    • Highly visible, non-remote locations with emergency vehicle access
    • Distribution of locations city-wide to provide equitable access
    • Washroom facilities nearby in the park
    • Food & beverage services nearby
    • Minimal impacts to natural areas, purpose-built, and/or programmable spaces
    • Minimal impacts/disruptions to neighbouring residents
    • Features & amenities appealing for socializing (views, benches, picnic sites)
    • Pedestrian, cycling, and public transit access nearby;
    • Parking for accessibility nearby
    • Minimum 20m from playgrounds
    • Not adjacent to schools
    • No bathing beaches (for aquatic safety reasons) 
    • No primary special event venues

    This criteria was reviewed and supported by the Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, Vancouver Coastal Health, and others, and was ultimately approved by the Park Board for this time-limited pilot in summer, 2020.

    How is the Park Board monitoring these sites?

    On-site monitoring at each pilot site will be conducted regularly by Park Rangers and Park Operations staff. Park Rangers will be visiting pilot sites every day to share information on this initiative to park users, and to monitor for safe, respectful and responsible behaviours. Sites that experience higher people volumes will also be monitored by the Vancouver Police Department. Park Operations staff will continuously monitor park conditions, including waste, litter, and washroom facilities. 

    How will you ensure responsible and safe consumption of alcohol in these parks?

    We are working closely with the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and pilot partners to identify, mitigate, and plan for risks associated with this work. This includes:

    Providing on-site signage and online resources for public space users to access information, specifically related to health and safety, harm reduction, and community services

    • Providing on-site signage to lay-out rules and responsibilities of public space users within designated drinking areas
    • Providing information on how to report issues should public space users observe or experience unsafe, irresponsible, emergency, and disrespectful behaviours within the drinking areas
    • Park Rangers will promote safe, responsible, and respectful park use on-site
    • Entrusting park users to self-regulate their behaviours and be respectful of other park users 

    VPD support these approaches and are always available for emergency response. Staff will be monitoring the plaza sites for the duration of the pilot to support daily site management decisions.

    Should anyone experience immediate threats to safety or in the case of emergency, please call 9-1-1. 

    For issues that require police assistance, but are not immediate threats to safety, please call the non-emergency line on 604-717-3321. For all other feedback specific to the Park Board, please call 3-1-1 or consider participating in the Alcohol Pilot survey at https://shapeyourcity.ca/alcohol-in-parks-pilot/survey_tools/alcohol-in-parks-pilot-survey

    What about washrooms and waste? Who will take care of these sites?

    All designated drinking sites are directly adjacent to public washrooms. These washrooms will be maintained by Park Operations twice daily and regularly monitored to ensure they are well managed. Additional waste totes will also be installed at each designated drinking site to accommodate potential increases in park use.

    Ongoing park monitoring, feedback from 3-1-1, and survey responses will also help us determine management needs for the pilot sites throughout the duration of the pilot.

    What are the benefits of this pilot? Why is this a temporary pilot and not permanently allowed?

    The Park Board is approaching this as a temporary study to understand the effects of designated drinking sites within park spaces, and we want to monitor and understand the impacts, and listen to the feedback that is received from residents.

    Some of the benefits this pilot may bring:

    • Respond to current resident needs in the wake of COVID-19, recognizing that the pandemic will continue to affect peoples’ ability to relax and connect with others for some time.
    • Foster social connectivity in wide, open areas – with the understanding that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is significantly lower outdoors and in open air, compared to enclosed spaces.
    • Respond to changing resident needs: not everyone has reliable access to private outdoor spaces such as yards or private gardens for small social gatherings. Increasingly in Vancouver, people are relying on parks to meet and connect with friends, family, and loved ones.
    • Address racial inequity in surveillance and policing: people regularly consume alcohol in public spaces, whether or not it’s legal to do so. However, not everyone experiences the same response from authorities. This pilot allows everyone to safely, respectfully, and responsibly enjoy alcohol at select sites without fear.

    How do I provide feedback on this pilot?