Bilaal Masum / Staff Reporter
Port Coquitlam’s popular alcohol in parks initiative allowing alcohol to be brought to and responsibly consumed in public parks has been made permanent after discussion about its benefits, such as adding to a sense of community and reduced indoor isolation; something that is especially important during this pandemic where many are unable to socialize like normal.
On February 16, council agreed to allow alcohol in 7 parks on a permanent basis and added 3 new parks to the initiative temporarily until October 31st after the initiative was met with mass positivity from public surveys according to article “Port Coquitlam approves popular alcohol in parks initiative – and expands it” by Diane Strandberg.
However, not everyone believes this new initiative provides positive changes. Hyder Masum, a 47 year old lawyer and father of three in a non-drinking family says “I’m against the idea [the alcohol in parks initiative] because I am of the opinion that public parks should be safe spaces for everyone, and permitting alcohol could lead to inappropriate or unsafe activity.”
This opinion was also voiced by Saksham Bhatttai, a 15 year old student residing in Vancouver whose family drinks occasionally. “It’s an unhealthy influence for young people, and is also unsafe in numerous ways, like how many people might drive home [from parks] under the influence.”
Despite such worries being present, the mayor of Port Coquitlam Brad West says that “It [the alcohol in parks initiative] was a very positive thing, never did I experience any sort of rowdy behaviour or hooliganism…” In fact, even Coquitlam RCMP is supportive of the initiative, although concerns about increased litter and lower bathroom availability at parks were raised in council and will be worked on as time goes on.
The responsible drinking in parks initiative will be closely monitored by parks and bylaw staff, and feedback will be collected via online survey at portcoquitlam.ca/alcoholpilot