Legal booze on the beach? Vernon will have to wait longer for an answer | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Legal booze on the beach? Vernon will have to wait longer for an answer

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June 09, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Vernon drinkers will have to wait at least another couple of weeks before knowing whether they will be able to legally drink a beer on the beach this summer.

In a close vote of four to three, Vernon council passed a motion to move forward with the file at its June 8 meeting. City staff will now compile a report and council will make its decision, June 22.

The city's Grade 12 grads were spared the wait time, and Vernon council unanimously voted to allow the graduation class to graffiti Suicide Hill and closing the portion of 30 Avenue to traffic until early September.

The proposal to allow people to drink in public is seen as a way to stimulate the food and drink industry during the pandemic. As businesses say there is no time to spare, governments at all levels have been prompted to cut red tape and fast track changes.

While Vernon council scrapped its patio regulations, allowing businesses to put tables outside on the sidewalk with no fee or paperwork, the question of public consumption is taking longer.

City staff will now compile a report by the time councillors vote, it will have been almost a month since the idea was put forward by Coun. Scott Anderson May 25.

While drinking alcohol in public may be breaking an age-old Canadian taboo, Penticton council has implemented a month-long trial, and did so without any delay. From the idea first being proposed at Penticton council to the first pop of a corkscrew on the beach took the city 15 days.

With Vernon council almost split on the idea, there's no guarantee it will pass.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming, along with councillors Dalvir Nahal and Kelly Fehr all voted against the idea.

"I don't think is something to be taken lightly," Coun. Fehr told the meeting. "It's worth pointing out that it doesn't seem to be very congruent to oppose an evidence-based health service such as an overdose prevention site... on one hand and promote the utilization of the most harmful drug, alcohol, on the other hand."

Coun. Nahal said people who are going to drink in public are already doing it anyway and she didn't want to encourage it any more than necessary.

Contrary to the councillor's opinions, a group of seniors who had met up in the park recently told they'd happily have a glass of wine in the park if it were allowed, but would not dream of doing so otherwise.

While councillors Kari Gares, Brian Quiring, Scott Anderson and Akbal Mund voted in favour of moving forward with the file, Coun. Mund previously told council he wasn't in favour of the move as people would not purchase alcohol from restaurants as was the idea, but instead go to cheaper liquor stores.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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