Responsible Drinking Coming to More Port Coquitlam Parks

PORT COQUITLAM, BC, Feb. 17, 2021. . . Adults will be able to drink responsibly in 10 Port Coquitlam parks this year, based on the success of last year’s pilot project.

Last year, Port Coquitlam was among the first cities in Metro Vancouver to allow responsible drinking in seven parks – Castle, Settlers, Gates, Lions, Aggie, Evergreen and Cedar Drive – by adults on a trial basis, as a way of encouraging people to spend more time outdoors.

Following strong approval from the public survey, the City’s Committee of Council on Tuesday agreed to permanently permit drinking in the initial seven parks and to conduct a pilot program at Peace, McLean and Dominion Parks this year until Oct. 31. Amendments to the City`s Bylaw will be brought forward to Council in early March.

“Last year’s pilot was an unquestionable success – almost nine out of 10 people surveyed approved of the program and asked us to continue or expand it to more parks,” said Mayor Brad West. “People told us they were happy to be able to responsibly and safely enjoy a drink with family and friends, and to be treated like adults, as we see in many countries around the world. We saw our parks come alive last summer as people of all ages were able to safely use our parks to feel a sense of community and less isolation.”

During the online survey conducted during the pilot, about 86 per cent of the 573 survey respondents had a “good” experience during the pilot and wanted it to continue. Almost 90 per cent of those surveyed were Port Coquitlam residents and almost two-thirds were age 40 or up.

Positive feedback about the program included that it fostered a sense of community, allowed people to gather, play games in a socially distanced safe way and reduced feelings of isolation – with requests to expand the program to other parks.

Among those with concerns about the program, general comments were about parks not being an appropriate place for drinking, and the potential for litter, noise, excessive drinking and inappropriate behaviour.

During the pilot, City Bylaw staff conducted proactive patrols and found that people were generally gathering safely and enjoying the parks with family and friends. Their records showed no undesirable behaviour or bylaw breaches. The RCMP advised the City they have no concerns arising from the pilot.

The parks department did note more garbage and recycling in the seven pilot sites, but this was the case in all of the City’s parks, which experienced notably increased use last year.

It is anticipated the additional demand for garbage and recycling in the 10 park sites will be accommodated within current service levels, but the City will continue to monitor the situation.

The City has 30 other parks throughout the community where alcohol is not permitted.

“People showed us last year that they could drink responsibly in parks, and we’re happy to provide this option in a portion of Port Coquitlam’s parks,” said Cllr. Steve Darling, Council’s designate for recreation and public safety matters. “As we continue this program into 2021, our parks and bylaw staff will be keeping an eye on all 10 sites to ensure our parks continue to remain safe spaces that everyone can enjoy.”

As with last year’s pilot project, signs will be posted this year at the three trial sites – Peace, McLean and Dominion Parks – and feedback will be collected through an online survey at until Oct. 31. Staff will then report back to Council with a recommendation on how to proceed.

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Pardeep Purewal
Manager of Communications & Admin Services
City of Port Coquitlam
Tel 604.927.5335 Cel 604.218.0533