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No booze on the beach in West Kelowna

West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom
West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom
Image Credit: Submitted/City of West Kelowna

West Kelowna city council took a pass on a suggested pilot project to allow alcohol on two beaches next summer.

The suggestion was made by the Greater Westside Board of Trade as a way to help restaurants increase their business but was rejected by city council yesterday, Dec. 14.

Councillors were concerned with having to, first of all, get staff to study the feasibility and legal issues. They were also concerned about the time and cost to police any such policy.

“I’m concerned about our time for staff,” Mayor Gord Milsom said. “We’ve got a pretty aggressive strategic plan for 2022. I see this as tangent taking us off course.”

CAO Paul Gipps said the city would likely need to apply for a liquor licence and the RCMP would have to enforce it because it falls under provincial jurisdiction. It could not be done through a bylaw, he said.

All councillors were against the suggestion that one of the two beaches be Willow Beach because it’s a family-oriented beach.

The other suggested beach was Rotary Beach, which is quite small.

“I believe, when this was drafted, that was still at a time when there were a lot more restrictions on restaurants and capacity,” Coun. Jason Friesen said. “The government did allow restaurants to provide and sell a glass of wine to go with a to-go meal. I think the idea and the premiss behind it was, if somebody was to take a to-go meal, supporting local restaurants, go down to the beach and have that meal but to also have that glass of wine with it.”

The reality though, is that people could simply bring wine or beer from home and drink on the beach, he said.

He was also concerned that restricting it to one beach would not stop people from thinking they could drink on any beach in West Kelowna.

Coun. Carol Zanon pointed out that most cities that had pilot projects decided not to continue.

Penticton is an exception. Last week its city council agreed, through a bylaw, to allow alcohol on some beaches next summer, following a successful pilot project this year.

READ MORE: Booze will be legal again next summer at some Penticton beaches and parks

Drinking is allowed in waterfront parks on Skaha and Okanagan lakes from May 1 to Oct. 31 between noon and 8 p.m.

“We’ve got so much going on with policing resources, bylaw resources and staff time focused on so many different issues, I say let’s move on,” West Kelowna Coun. Rick de Jong said in wrapping up the discussion.

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