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EDITORIAL – Why do we always need more places to consume alcohol?

Kamloops doesn’t have public plaza spaces as Vancouver does where alcohol could be consumed. Above is the 4th Avenue pedestrian mall in 2018. (Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

I HAVE TO AGREE with Mayor Ken Christian when it comes to drinking in public parks.

A handful of B.C. cities are trying it out on a pilot-project basis and, naturally, the question arises whether Kamloops should follow along.

Christian says there’s been no demand for it and is of a mind that there’s no good reason for Kamloops to get involved in figuring out all the challenges of doing it and he’s right.

North Vancouver, Penticton and Port Coquitlam are doing it as a way of creating public spaces where people can imbibe with social distancing and now Vancouver is trying it too.

A staff report to Vancouver City council offered assurances that law enforcement agencies and business groups had been thoroughly consulted. That’s good, but listen to the concerns expressed by those groups.

Says the report: “Those concerns relate to the risks of inadvertently enabling binge drinking in public, supporting a culture of drinking, creating public safety issues by enabling public intoxication, and supporting public gatherings during the COVID pandemic. Staff have worked to create a pilot that mitigates these risks, but they remain.”

But, the report recommended a green light anyway, suggesting that signage and close monitoring would do the trick.

The four sites approved in Vancouver aren’t even parks; they’re existing public plazas. Kamloops doesn’t have much in the way of such spaces, but it doesn’t matter — there’s no reason to consider the concept.

One must ask what the benefits would be, and it’s hard to identify any. Sure, a brewsky might be nice after a swim at the beach but there are other ways of quenching one’s thirst. Why is it that we’re always looking for more ways to consume alcohol?

If it helps, Vernon and Saanich have turned it down. Kamloops, too, will survive without it.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

About Mel Rothenburger (7864 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on EDITORIAL – Why do we always need more places to consume alcohol?

  1. iF YOU HAVE EVER HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE FRENCH POLICE,YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE HAVING A DRINK OF WINE IN A PARK ARE ACTING CIVILIZED AND BEHAVING THEMSELVES,

  2. Our society is long past the time it would have been possible to permit public drinking. We have spent many decades prohibiting, regulating, and directly countering the concept of having the freedom to consider taking a drink to a park. The closest we could get are fenced off sections we call ‘beer gardens’, where we are in essence treated by being locked away in temporary outdoor pubs … separating regular society, from the desire to enjoy a beer or glass of wine.

    In our world, alcohol consumption itself is the purview of private homes or public/private places in pubs and clubs. We go there to drink, maybe with friends, or possibly alone, and then leave back into society where we are not allowed to drink.

    … I know this sounds simplistic, but I’m saying all this for a reason.

    When I visited Paris, in City parks everywhere, one would very often see groups of friends sitting and enjoying a bottle of wine … and its not an occasional sight, its regular and common.

    This has always been the culture there for literally hundreds of years, it is normal. Because of this well established freedom, there are no concerns or problems attached, no policing needs, no intoxication, no municipal involvement, no complaints by other park users. People clean up their empties, carry off their wine glasses … and no one notices.

    Because of the prohibitive culture that we created, and our custom of a lack of freedom regarding alcohol consumption, any kind of transition to the idea will result in problems, because many of the people here who would appreciate it, do not know how to limit consumption and control themselves and they will ruin it for the rest of us. Not all of us, or even most, but enough.

    Would I like to see it here? Sure … I’d take a single can of beer to Music in the Park or such.
    Do I see it lasting? Not a chance. There will be someone else there finishing a case off.
    Then the police would be called, a media story, Council discussion of the stats, and it will be cut.

    So much for that idea.

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