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. Sites will be a new and temporary measure to support residents and businesses in a time of need, and will be available for public drinking from August 10, 2020 to October 12, 2020.

    Where are the designated drinking sites?

    There are currently four sites that will allow public consumption of alcohol during specific hours:

    • šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énk Square (Vancouver Art Gallery – North Plaza) from 12:00 PM to 9:00 PM
    • Lot 19 (Hornby and W. Hastings) from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
    • Bute-Robson Plaza,  from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
    • 17th & Cambie Temporary Plaza,  from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM

    Where is this initiative coming from?

    In late June, City Council directed staff to update its alcohol bylaw to allow people to drink alcohol in designated public spaces as a temporary pilot program. 

    Council is motivated by a desire to:

    • Provide people the option to socialize and drink outside in outdoor, open spaces where transmission rates for COVID-19 are lower flu-transmission rates are lower;
    • Provide people with additional public space options – in particular, those who have limited options for small social gatherings; and
    • Support local businesses by providing spaces for patrons to enjoy take-out and to queue.

    What are the benefits of these sites?

    Creating these spaces supports current business needs and resident needs in a time where businesses have reduced patron capacity, and there are residents may have fewer options for safer gathering and socializing – understanding that eating and drinking, when done respectfully and responsibly, are healthy are frequently ways to facilitate social connections.

    How are these sites selected?

    The plaza sites were selected by community partners and vetted 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. To avoid placing sites in neighbourhoods with no community support, staff let partners choose the sites, and four sites were finalized as a result.

    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; and
    • Identifying potential need for community ambassadors to perform “spot checks” in areas, to monitor behaviours and issues – which will be assessed per site on an ongoing basis with partners.

    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. In fact, a strong maintenance plan and accessibility to washrooms are important criteria we used to evaluate whether or not a site is suitable for this 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 robust and diverse approaches to monitoring pilot sites for data. These approaches include the following, and will be collected for the duration of the pilot:

    • Incident, crime, and emergency data from the police department
    • 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
    • Public feedback from a voluntary online survey [embed hyperlink]for public space users, which will be available on signage and online

    Altogether, 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 their decisions. As well, data collected will inform long range public space policy development.

    How can I provide feedback?

    We want your feedback on the Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces Pilot! Ongoing monitoring, along with public feedback, will help us improve these spaces over time.

    Take our survey here to share your thoughts.