Another Metro Vancouver city is considering allowing alcohol in specific parks

The grassy picnic area at Pier Park is one of the sites being recommended for a pilot project allowing drinking in some parks.

Another Metro Vancouver city is considering a pilot project that would allow drinking in some of its parks.

New Westminster's city council is expected to discuss the idea in a meeting Monday. The motion, brought forward by Coun. Patrick Johnstone, proposes trying the program for the 2021 picnic season at six parks.

The suggested locations are:

  • Pier Park: On the grass picnic field and the grass knoll beside it
  • Moody Park: On the mixed-use grass fields north of the multi-use path (not on the paved areas or sports courts)
  • Hume Park: Upper Hume Park south of the off-leash dog and forested areas
  • Sapperton Park: Open field portion of the park facing East Columbia Street
  • Port Royal Park: By the crescent field and the picnic shelters, north of the restrooms
  • Grimston Park: At the open field and picnic area north of the wading pool

"The six park areas … serve their respective neighbourhoods, have adequate space for varying users, feature safe and open spaces popular for picnics and family gathering and have public restrooms available, therefore providing ideal conditions for initial designation as alcohol-permitted spaces," Johnstone's motion says.

Johnstone's motion suggests drinking only be permitted in those areas from 11 a.m. to dusk. He also suggests city staff review the program after the 2021 picnic season and report back to council with any challenges or suggested changes for the following year.

"The cities of North Vancouver and Port Coquitlam piloted successful trials in 2020 designating parts or all of designated city parks as places where alcohol can be consumed," the motion says.

"Both have in 2021 moved to expand these areas and make the designations permanent due to positive public response."

North Vancouver made its program permanent in October after being the first jurisdiction outside Quebec to test it out. The project was suggested in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, giving residents more options to socialize safely outdoors. 8

During the pilot, that city did incur about $80,000 in extra garbage and recycling collection expenses, although park use was up generally over the summer months, staff said last fall.

Port Coquitlam also made its pilot permanent in February after testing out the project in seven of its parks. 

New Westminster's council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press