Delta residents will once again be able to legally enjoy a beer at certain city parks this summer, and for many more summers to come.
On Monday afternoon (April 25), council voted 6-1 to give first, second and third reading to a bylaw allowing liquor to be consumed in designated areas within select City of Delta parks from June through September.
The bylaw makes permanent a pilot project last year that allowed alcohol consumption in designated areas of North Delta Community Park, Memorial Park in Ladner and Diefenbaker Park in Tsawwassen from 11 a.m. to dusk, June 1 through Sept. 30.
A report by city staff notes that parks staff worked closely with bylaw enforcement officers and Delta police to monitor behaviour at the designated parks last summer and, while bylaw officers did respond to some complaints during the pilot, no significant issues were identified.
As well, staff received only three complaints through the city’s Let’s Talk Delta platform over the pilot period relating to excessive noise and overflowing garbage.
“Based on the feedback received, staff consider the program to be largely successful,” the report states.
At Monday’s meeting, Coun. Dylan Kruger, whose motion in March of 2021 led to the pilot project’s creation, called the move a great step forward both in terms of equity, as it allows people who don’t have access to private yards a chance to get outdoor, and in terms of “building a fun city where people are able to enjoy themselves and their local amenities.”
“I think every single person I talked to talked about this as just a tremendous success, Kruger said, noting the scarcity of complaints during last year’s pilot program.
“We saw people interacting with parks, as they should be — families with kids, young adults, older adults, seniors, people from all walks of life enjoying some of our great recreational assets in the city, yet also able to support some local businesses and some of our local breweries by bringing alcoholic beverages to the park and responsibly consuming [them].”
Coun. Lois Jackson, citing a letter to council from Fraser Health population and public health officer Dr. Emily Newhouse that raises concerns about the potential harms of unsupervised alcohol consumption on municipal properties, voted against the bylaw.
Jackson also expressed concern about the lack of public input and wanted to see the bylaw go to a hearing so council can hear directly from residents rather than receive feedback in “bits and pieces here and there from all over.”
“I do feel that this is a major public issue.”
Mayor George Harvie, in response, noted that even before the pilot last summer “there was a lot of alcohol flowing too.”
Harvie said his only concern was making sure bylaw officers checking every day to ensure people are staying within the designated alcohol consumption areas.
The program will remain limited to the three parks from last summer’s pilot, though a second designated drinking zone is being added in North Delta Community Park south of the parking lot. As well, based on feedback from users, the boundary of the original zone at the park is being moved away from the playground.