The City of Penticton will allow drinking in public spaces. The decision was made Tuesday, June 2, 2020 in a virtual city council meeting. (BC Ale Trail photo)

Pilot project approved: Penticton to allow alcohol in outdoor spaces

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project, before eventually passing it 4-2

Drinking alcohol in Penticton’s public spaces will be allowed starting, June 3.

During a June 2 meeting, City of Penticton councillors voted to allow the public to drink alcohol in designated areas only.

This one-month pilot project will serve as a test and includes several areas along the Okanagan Lake waterfront.

For almost two hours, council debated the proposed pilot project. The motion was finalized with a vote of 4-2, with Couns. Katie Robinson and Judy Sentes opposed.

The pilot project will take place from June 3 to July 4, noon to 8 p.m.

The originally proposed areas allowing consumption of alcohol included from the SS Sicamous, along Okanagan Beach (excluding the walkway) to Rotary Park, including Gyro Park, Okanagan Lake Park and Marina Way Park.

This was later amended to exclude Gyro Park and SS Sicamous Park, and start at Power St. Council also requested weekly updates from staff.

A proposal by Coun. Robinson to postpone the start of the pilot project for two weeks, to allow for more public consultation, was defeated. In debate Coun. Julius Bloomfield opposed to the delay and cited the need to start the pilot project now as well as obtain objective data.

If things go “sideways” and bylaw and RCMP receive more calls, the city’s director of development services Blake Laven explained the council can cancel the pilot.

Mayor of Penticton, John Vassilaki, who owns a local liquor store, excused himself from the discussion due to conflict of interest.

The idea to lift the restrictions on public drinking was first proposed by Coun. Campbell Watt in a previous council meeting.

Watt’s reasoning for the lift on restrictions is to support local breweries, wineries, distilleries and restaurants while also allowing people to enjoy food and drinks in an outdoor setting amid COVID-19 restrictions.

Before voting, councillors discussed the proposal extensively and were divided on the topic. Some highlighted concerns and others noted it as a positive addition to the town.

Some said there is a need to update “archaic” liquor laws and allow people to enjoy a drink on the beach.

Coun. Robinson had several concerns, including that this could result in increased strain on police and bylaw.

Coun. Bloomfield said there has been a generational shift in how people drink, and that the cultural atmosphere is much less problematic. He said he’s willing to give it a try.

Coun. Campbell Watt was in favour of the proposal.

“I think what we have right now is an opportunity to allow responsible adults to be responsible adults,” said Watt.

Coun. Frank Regehr was in favour but highlighted the need to divide the beach into designated drinking, and non-drinking areas.

Coun. Sentes said this is ‘not the time’ to bring this forward, as they already have enough on their plates.

“I don’t think it (alcohol) has a place there (beaches),” she said, suggesting people who want to drink should stick to places that serve it, like restaurants.

Gyro Park was eliminated without much debate as councillors noted it is a place where families gather.

The city received comments in support from residents and the business community but also concerns from the public health perspective by Interior Health, and Pathways, as well as concerns with minors, litter, and addictions.

Beginning June 10, for two weeks, the city will start to obtain public feedback on how the new project is working.

The findings of this public input will be presented to council for a decision on July 7.

Food and Drink

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stats Canada released figures on the 2019 violations handled by RCMP in Penticton on Oct. 29. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Crime rate skyrockets in Penticton from 2018 to 2019

Penticton saw a 52 per cent increase in the crime rate

(Black Press Media files)
Charges dropped against alleged indecent Osoyoos mountie

The RCMP have a separate internal investigation into the officer

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media file)
Summerland crime figures showed decrease in 2019

Policing statistics show drop in crime rates, although violent crimes increased

Four staff members at the Okanagan Men’s Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 since Oct. 23, 2020. (Adult and Teen Challenge OMC photo)
Four positive COVID-19 cases at Okanagan Men’s Centre

Those affected are staff and have been in isolation since Oct. 23

Homes in Summerland have been among the households in Canada to participate in radon testing. (TakeActiononRadon.ca)
Testing finds 38 per cent of Summerland homes have unsafe radon levels

Okanagan community one of 15 involved in national testing program

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Crime up 31 per cent in Vernon in 2019: Statistics Canada

Increase includes a 45 per cent rise in violent Criminal Code violations

A Tuesday Oct. 27, 2020 apartment fire in Penticton killed two and displaced dozens more. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Fatal Penticton apartment fire deemed accidental

The blaze gutted an apartment building on Tuesday morning, killing two people and displacing dozens

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports seven more COVID-19 cases

Eighty-nine cases remain active, none of whom are currently hospitalized

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

This Photoshopped version of the crosswalks near the entrance to the Salmon Arm Arts Centre on Hudson Avenue show what is proposed to help create safety for and show inclusivity to the LGBTQ2S+ community. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
Tri-rainbow crosswalk and Progress flag requested to help make Salmon Arm safe

Council will consider budget requests to help make city inclusive to LBGTQ2S+ community

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Animal care manager Tracy Reynolds confirmed the lynx is the same wildcat that was spotted wandering North Kamloops in broad daylight on Sunday, Oct. 25. BC Wildlife Park.
Lynx found wandering Kamloops taken to BC Wildlife Park

While the lynx’s outward appearance was deemed normal, it actually had an abdominal infection

Most Read