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

    A designated drinking site is a plaza (or area within a plaza) that allows public space users to responsibly and respectfully enjoy alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, spirits, or others. The public can bring their own drinks, enjoy take-out from local businesses, socialize, people watch, have a picnic, and enjoy the urban outdoors during the summer and fall. These sites are a new and temporary measure and will be in effect from May 31, 2021 (for Cambie and 17th, 800 Robson, and Fraser and 27th) or July 15, 2021 (for Granville and 13th, Granville and 14th, and Maple and 4th) to October 11, 2021. Drinking will be allowed from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm daily.

    Where are the designated drinking sites?

    There are six public plazas where drinking is allowed between 11:00 am and 9:00 pm daily until October 11:

    • Cambie St and 17th Ave
    • 800 Robson
    • Fraser St and 27th Ave
    • Granville St and 13th Ave
    • Granville St and 14th Ave
    • Maple St and 4th Ave

    Where is this initiative coming from?

    In June 2020, City Council directed staff to update its alcohol by-law to allow people to drink in public plazas as a temporary pilot program for summer 2020. On May 18, 2021, Council directed staff to continue this pilot for summer 2021.

    The 2020 pilot demonstrated that drinking in public plazas can be done respectfully and responsibly. The 2021 pilot will allow:

    • Deeper engagement with partners and stakeholders
    • Refinement of management and monitoring plans
    • Testing of new partnerships and new plazas in a wider range of neighbourhoods
    • A longer time period for more public engagement and data collection
    • Continued support for local businesses and safe social gathering

    What are the benefits of this pilot?

    Some of the benefits this pilot may bring include:

    • Respond to current resident and business needs in the wake of COVID-19 by supporting social connectivity and the enjoyment of beverages and take-out food in outdoor 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.
    • 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 designated plaza sites without fear.

    How are these sites selected?

    The pilot sites were proposed by plaza partners and evaluated by City staff through a set of criteria that must require sites to be spatially feasible, manageable on a day-to-day basis, and easy to monitor for data collection. Sites were also reviewed by the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Coastal Health. 

    The pilot encourages sites that are within walking distance to food-primary businesses, public transit, and overnight parking facilities, while aiming to stay away from sensitive areas such as hospital or health care facilities, or residential-only areas. A robust and collaborative approach to site management and stewardship is important to ensure sites remain clean and safe. As such, the pilot was limited to existing pop-up and permanent plazas as these spaces have the necessary partnerships in place to support this approach.

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

    City staff 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:

    • Setting up management and stewardship plans with pilot partners to ensure sites are well managed on a day-to-day basis;
    • 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.

    VPD support these approaches and are always available for emergency response. Additionally, staff will be collecting and monitoring data on an ongoing basis that will inform daily site management decisions.


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

    Staff are working with partners to ensure sites are well-maintained and within walking distance to essential public amenities like washrooms. Temporary portable washrooms will be installed at most public plaza sites participating in the pilot.

    Please review the on-site signage available at each site, which will provide you with information on proper waste disposal and nearby washrooms.

    How is the City monitoring the sites?

    Staff will be using a robust monitoring plan to collect data at the public plaza sites for the duration of the pilot, including:

    • Incident, crime, and emergency data from police;
    • Public feedback from 3-1-1;
    • Individual and community health data from Vancouver Coastal Health;
    • Observational scans of each pilot site, to be performed on a regular basis by staff and partners; and
    • Public feedback from from our online survey.

    These approaches will inform the day-to-day management of the sites and ensure the City and partners are responding with real-time data to make decisions. Data collected will inform long-range policy about public space.

    How can I provide feedback?

    We want your feedback on the Drinking in Public Plazas Pilot! Along with ongoing monitoring, public feedback will help us improve these spaces over time and inform long-range policy about public space.

    Take our survey here to share your thoughts.