The City of Vernon will not be following the footsteps of its neighbour in the south and won’t allow drinking in public areas amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Coun. Scott Anderson made the suggestion in May to allow for the consumption of alcohol in designated public places as it could help the restaurant industry while reopening at a limited capacity.
Anderson pointed to the City of Penticton’s decision to launch a one-month pilot project June 2 that would allow for consumption in specific areas between noon and 8 p.m.
But at the June 22 meeting, following responses from police and Interior Health against the motion, Anderson said it’s not a good time for this.
“I will be watching what’s happening in Vancouver and other places that are trying this and may bring it back,” Anderson said.
Vernon North Okanagan RCMP Supt. Shawna Baher said public drinking could expose young persons to negative behaviours such as intoxication, disturbances and public urination. Other concerns involved an increase in noise, loitering, impaired driving, which could result in increase call for services while resources are limited.
”It would be difficult to enforce a responsible consumption in public places, compared to licensed establishments,” her report to council read.
Interior Health’s medical health officer Dr. Silvina Meme provided the IH position stating it too was against public drinking.
“Permitting alcohol consumption in designated public spaces may increase the harms associated with alcohol and augment COVID-19 transmission,” the June 12 statement read. “Furthermore, such a policy sends a message that normalizes alcohol drinking and promotes a culture of alcohol consumption.”