Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces
Our three-month Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces pilot is running from July 4 to October 6, 2023. Responsible alcohol consumption will be permitted in designated areas of Waterfront, Boyce-Gyro, and Kinsmen Beach parks daily from noon to 9 p.m.
Public alcohol consumption is only permitted in these areas. Kelowna RCMP and City Bylaw Services officers will issue tickets and bylaw offence notices to people found consuming alcohol in City parks or other public areas not included in the pilot.
These parks are conveniently located near mid- and high-density neighborhoods, where residents are less likely to have access to private outdoor spaces.
They have amenities like washrooms, trash cans, and picnic areas that are easily accessible by public transit and active transportation routes. For the safety of park users and their pets, glass alcoholic beverage containers are prohibited.
The pilot was proposed by Kelowna’s Mayor and Council and is modelled after similar initiatives in Penticton, Vancouver and other Metro Vancouver communities. These cities have reported few serious impacts during their pilot phases and have subsequently allowed permanent alcohol consumption in certain locations.
Program implementation and future considerations
The Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces pilot will be assessed following its completion. The results of the pilot, and City Council deliberation, will inform decision-making about next steps following the pilot period.
The Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces pilot will run daily noon to 9 p.m. from July 4 to October 6, 2023.
These are some of the rules that people participating in the pilot should remember:
- The pilot is limited to designated areas of Waterfront, Boyce-Gyro and Kinsmen Beach parks. Areas where alcohol consumption is permitted will be identified with signs.
- Alcohol consumption is only permitted from noon until 9 p.m. daily.
- Alcohol consumption is not permitted near playgrounds and other areas with high concentrations of children, within 15 metres of a private residence or near skateparks and other structures that could lead to injury.
- For the safety of park users and their pets, glass alcoholic beverage containers are not allowed.
- The pilot focuses on responsible alcohol consumption. Public intoxication remains illegal.
Waterfront, Boyce-Gyro and Kinsmen Beach parks have been included in the pilot because:
- They are close to mid- and high-density neighbourhoods where residents are less likely to have private outdoor spaces.
- They have amenities like washrooms, trash cans and picnic areas that are necessary to support the pilot.
- They are easily accessed by public transit and active transportation routes.
Many Kelowna residents and visitors don’t have access to private outdoor spaces where they can safely and legally enjoy an alcoholic beverage. The pilot promotes responsible behaviour by designating areas where they can.
Kelowna residents and visitors should be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage in one of our parks if they choose to, and we trust they can do so responsibly. Parks serve as community gathering places and allowing responsible alcohol consumption allows people to come together and interact in a safe and enjoyable environment.
The City is taking a cautious approach with a three-month pilot initiative in select parks. The pilot will help us understand the local context and address any issues specific to Kelowna that might arise. The pilot will be assessed and its results and City Council’s consideration will inform decision-making about next steps following the pilot period.
Penticton, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam have introduced similar pilots in recent years. They have cited few serious impacts due to the pilots and have gone on to allow alcohol consumption in some locations permanently.
The greatest impact other municipalities identified out of their pilot initiatives is a greater need for garbage collection. Parks have been selected that can accommodate that increased demand and City employees will regularly inspect and maintain those areas to ensure they are in good condition.
Alcohol consumption is only allowed in Waterfront, Boyce-Gyro and Kinsmen Beach parks from noon to 9 p.m.
Glass beverage containers are not allowed as part of the pilot to prevent the risk of injury to people and their pets.
The parks that are included in the pilot have containers to accommodate a larger amount of garbage, and City employees will regularly inspect and maintain those areas to ensure they are in good condition.
Boyce-Gyro features high-capacity waste containers and smart sensors have been installed in waste bins in all pilot spaces to alert City staff when they’ve reached capacity. Frequent mechanical beach cleaning ensures that beach areas are kept clear of debris and safe for all users and their pets.
Kelowna RCMP can issue tickets for public intoxication, and alcohol consumption in areas and at times not permitted under the pilot initiative.
Bylaw Officers can issue bylaw offence notices to individuals who consume alcohol in public outside of the areas and times designated in the pilot.
The Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces pilot will be monitored closely throughout the three months it is active and will be assessed after its completion.
We are working closely with the RCMP, the Downtown Kelowna Association, Tourism Kelowna and affected neighbourhood associations to address any issues or concerns that may arise during the pilot. We will consult these partners during and following the pilot as it is assessed.
The Responsible Alcohol Consumption in Public Spaces pilot will be assessed following its completion. Those results and City Council’s considerations will inform decision-making about next steps following the pilot period. The pilot could be expanded, and responsible alcohol consumption even allowed permanently in some locations, as has happened in other municipalities, but an important first step is to implement a pilot and then bring results to Council for further consideration.