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Enjoy a beer or glass of wine at your picnic in a Port Moody park? It could happen this summer

A policy to allow alcohol consumption in parks and public spaces could be in place for this summer
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A glass of wine or beer could be on the menu of your summer picnic in Port Moody parks.

It might soon be possible for visitors to Port Moody’s Rocky Point Park or the Queens Street Plaza to enjoy a beer or glass of wine.

But how soon will depend on when staff is able to report back to council with a policy crafted to allow the “responsible” consumption of alcohol in the city’s parks and public spaces.

Tuesday, councillors unanimously endorsed a motion put forward by Coun. Meghan Lahti to begin the process that would bring city regulations in line with neighbouring communities like Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and New Westminster that now have rules in place allowing people to drink in parks.

“Other communities have moved forward, but Port Moody has not,” she said, adding the change would be a pilot project with staff reporting back in January, 2023, on its challenges and successes.

Lahti said she hopes the policy could be in place this summer, before council recesses in August.

But Port Moody’s director of environment and parks, Julie Pavey-Tomlinson, cautioned the process of implementing a policy isn’t as simple as just writing one up and getting it approved. She said communities like Vancouver that have embarked upon similar pilot projects have faced extra expenses for costs like maintenance, cleaning up litter and erecting signage.

“I do think there is a budget and resource component as well,” Pavey-Tomlinson said. “I think it will take a little time to pull together.”

Mayor Rob Vagramov wondered if requiring people to consumer their alcohol in discreet, generic containers like cups might soften the visual impact of drinking in the city’s parks and public spaces.

“The only real push back I see is some people don’t want to see and know what people are drinking,” he said.

Coun. Hunter Madsen said public alcohol consumption might send a bad message to people struggling with alcohol addiction.

“They know to avoid the bar and certain restaurants, and now when they go to the park people will have their bottles out and they’re having a great time,” he said. “Alcoholism is the rampant addiction of our time.”

Lahti said the emphasis of the change would be on the “responsible” consumption of alcohol. She said there would be rules in place prohibiting drinking near playgrounds as well as other amenities primarily used by children and youth like school grounds.

“Responsible consumption of liquor in parks is one way many municipalities have responded to the growing demand for residents to gather and socialise in outdoor public spaces,” Lahti said in a report.