WATCH: It’s been an ongoing debate for years, should drinking be allowed in public? It’s been legal in some parts of the world for decades and now some Canadian cities are pushing for it. Ceilidh Millar reports.
Are you keen to enjoy a glass of wine or a pint of beer on a beach or in a park in Victoria?
Public consumption of alcohol is still illegal in the province, but some cities are pushing for that to change.
“There’s many other parts of the world where it’s legal and it’s no big deal,” said one person at Willows Beach.
“Prohibition never worked,” explained another.
As of now, consuming alcohol in public is forbidden.
According to B.C.’s Liquor Act, violators could be fined as much as $240.
The idea of legalizing alcohol in parks and on beaches has come up for public consultation recently in Canadian cities like Calgary and Toronto.
This summer, Vancouver will be moving ahead with a pilot project allowing for the sale of alcoholic drinks at concession stands at both English Bay and Kitsilano Beach.
So will Victoria be next?
The Victoria chapter of The Campaign for Real Ale Society, an advocacy group, hopes the city will relax its regulations.
“We hope the city will open up a bit to allow law-abiding citizens to have a glass of wine or a beer while still being a good citizen and not interrupting the people around them,” said president Greg Garner.
In January 2017, the province did loosen liquor laws, allowing municipalities and regional districts to permit public drinking in designated areas without provincial approval so long as signs are posted in the area, but no areas currently exist in Victoria.
“We’re in the process of our 2019-2022 strategic plan and no one has come forward with that as an item,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “It’s not something we’re going to be looking at in the next four years.”
While some people want the laws to change, there are concerns about public safety.
“I’m 70 per cent against it because people go to the beach and to the parks for quiet and solitude,” said one person enjoying a walk on Dallas Road in Victoria.
“When people drink they often get a little rowdy,”
“I think it’s okay if you’re having a few drinks on the beach or having a glass of wine at a picnic,” explained another. “But it’s not okay if you’re excessively drinking.”
Garner believes the practice is a matter of fairness.
“In some areas where it has been successful like Quebec and Alberta, there has to be proper signage, people have to be eating food and all the same laws that should exist, do exist,” Garner said.
Until there is a real push from the public, it seems enjoying a civilized glass of chardonnay in a Victoria park will have to wait.