Gellatly Beach, West Kelowna, photo taken by Laryn Gilmour/Black Press Media

Gellatly Beach, West Kelowna, photo taken by Laryn Gilmour/Black Press Media

West Kelowna says no to allowing alcohol at public beaches

Mayor Gord Milsom called the request a “tangent” that would distract from other strategic priorities

The City of West Kelowna has declined a request from the Greater Westside Board of Trade to consider a pilot project that would allow for alcohol consumption on two city beaches.

The Board of Trade suggested Willow Beach and Rotary Beach as locations for the pilot project. Executive director Heather Robinson said the move would help support the hard-hit restaurant and tourism industry by allowing people to enjoy take-out meals with an alcoholic beverage.

“We need to have outdoor areas allocated to our community and tourists to be able to enjoy our beautiful beaches and parts while supporting these businesses,” Robinson wrote.

Similar initiatives have been undertaken in municipalities like Vancouver, North Vancouver and Penticton.

Council expressed openness to the pilot but debated the locations and merits of the project.

Councillors Rick de Jong and Stephen Johnston said that Willow Beach is a family orientated location and would not be suitable for public alcohol consumption.

Councillor Carol Zanon refused the idea outright, saying the program is a risk to public safety and doubted the move would result in much tangible support for local restaurants.

“Quite frankly, I don’t see why we should be doing it at this point when we have all sorts of other challenges in front of us,” Zanon said. “Maybe in another year or so we could look at it but I definitely feel this is not the time to be going in this direction.”

Mayor Gord Milsom came out against the pilot as well, saying he had serious concerns about how the program would be enforced. Milsom also worried about the cost and administrative burden on the city’s bylaw officers who would be responsible for overseeing the program.

“We have a pretty aggressive strategic plan for 2022 and I see this as a tangent taking us off course,” Milsom said.

Council opted not to move forward with further investigation of the pilot project.

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