Penticton city council agrees to booze on some parts of the beach - InfoNews

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Penticton city council agrees to booze on some parts of the beach

Citizens will be able to have a drink of their favourite wine, beer or spirits on a portion of Okanagan Lake beach following a Penticton city council decision yesterday.
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June 03, 2020 - 8:35 AM

The prospect of public consumption of alcohol on Penticton beaches proved too revolutionary for some Penticton councillors yesterday, but in the end, Penticton City Council agreed to a modified plan to allow public alcohol consumption on some city properties.

Public consumption on a portion of Okanagan Beach, east from Power Street, will be allowed for a trial period from today, June 3, to July 4 following a lengthy discussion.

The issue was spearheaded by Coun. Campbell Watt who urged council not to fear the unknown and give the pilot project a one-month trial period.

“We are dealing with unique times. This is an opportunity to allow responsible adults to be responsible adults,” Watt said.

Coun. Katie Robinson called the staff proposal a “far larger scale than I envisioned.”

She expressed concerns about drinking in Gyro Park and said the recommendation was “moving too fast.”

Coun. Jake Kimberley said he was against any drinking on the beach for fear of broken glass.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield said he would vote in favour of the pilot project as laid out by staff, noting there were provisions included that would allow council to stop it at any moment during the trial period.

Coun. Judy Sentes said she wasn’t comfortable with the proposal, saying she couldn’t support the concept of alcohol on the beach.

“This is not the time to bring this forward. The community is already divided about this,” she said.

Coun. Frank Regehr suggested dividing Okanagan Lake beach up into drinking and non-drinking areas, rather than allow alcohol consumption on the entire length of Okanagan Beach.

A lengthy debate centred on reducing the beach area where alcohol consumption would be allowed, with some councillors expressing a wish not to see consumption in Gyro Park. Coun. Robinson wanted to hold off on a final decision on the matter until the next council meeting in order to seek more public input.

Coun. Julius Bloomfield noted the pilot project was also about providing ‘good data’ about the issue. He said the more restrictions put on the project the less data they would collect.

“Everybody’s wondering how it’s going to go, but no one can know until it’s adopted,” he said, advocating to move the recommendation forward.

Coun. Campbell eventually suggested an amendment to remove Gyro Park and Sicamous Park, stopping alcohol consumption at Power Street, in addition to staff providing weekly reports to council on the pilot program’s success.

Con. Katie Robinson put forward a further amendment to alter the timing of the bylaw by two weeks to allow time for the public  to provide feedback to the staff recommendation, which was seconded by Coun. Kimberley.

Council agreed to adjust the size of the project as per Watt’s amendment, but defeated Robinson’s motion to defer bylaw implementation for two weeks.

Council was then asked to reconsider and adopt the bylaws put forward as amended, from June 3 to July 4, which council passed.

Mayor John Vassilaki excused himself from the discussions, on the basis of potential conflict of interest.

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