Open liquor allowed?

A Penticton city councillor has proposed some loosening on public drinking bylaws at a specific beach or park to help encourage residents to get takeout and alcohol from local establishments and enjoy it outdoors.

Coun. Campbell Watt floated the idea at Tuesday’s council meeting, explaining he was not proposing a blanket lift on restrictions, but instead looking at opening just Gyro Park or Skaha Beach, for example.

He said that with local restaurants, breweries and wineries restricted in the numbers they can have in-house, this could be a step that helps them.

“It’s really important in my opinion to act, we can really leverage what we have to keep these businesses afloat and keep these jobs in Penticton,” Watt said. “I think the overall goal is to really encourage support to places that really can’t have us come in right now.”

Chief Administrative Officer Donny Van Dyk confirmed it was within council’s ability under the Liquor Control Act to make that happen.

“Part of that legislation requires the bylaw have very clear definition of the location, the time as well as the signage as well that must be placed,” Van Dyk said. “We have the ability to bring back a draft bylaw for consideration by council as early as next meeting.”

Coun. Frank Regher voiced some skepticism.

“If open liquor is allowed on the beach or Gyro or something, it won’t necessarily be purchased at the local restaurants or other establishments … I think we’d want to be sure we have some ability to be sure that revenue is helping,” he said.

Coun. Katie Robinson cited “unusual times.”

“I think somewhat slackening the strict rules we have in place might be a good idea. As long as it’s done responsibly with some strict controls in place, I don’t see it as a problem,” she said.

Coun. Jake Kimberley was also in favour, adding with a smile, “A nice bottle of wine on a picnic table in the summertime is kinda nice.”

Council ultimately voted to send the matter to staff and will hear their recommendations at a later meeting.

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