Council votes to allow alcohol on select beaches, cannabis still banned

Booze OK on 3 beaches

Alcohol is in but cannabis is still a no-no as the City of Kelowna embarks in a new pilot project allowing the consumption of alcohol on a select number of beaches.

Council gave three readings to a bylaw Monday allowing the consumption of alcohol at Waterfront Park and Tugboat Beach, Kinsman Park and Boyce Gyro Park from July 4 through Oct. 6.

However, some areas will be off limits including the playground and sports courts at Kinsman Park, the playground and zipline at Gyro, all parking lots and within 15 metres of any residence.

Parks planner Melanie Stepphun says signs will be posted in each of the three locations indicating the regulations around the bylaw, maps showing where alcohol can be consumed and phone numbers to call if problems arise.

And, while council seemed to generally agree with the pilot program, three issues in particular dominated the discussion, a decision to exempt the BC and Labour day weekends from the program, whether to allow glass containers and why alcohol is being allowed, but not cannabis.

"Why are certain legalized substances allowed and not others? asked Coun. Loyal Wooldridge.

"For example cannabis is legal but we are allowing alcohol. I'm wondering why we are choosing one legalized substances over others."

He pointed to studies showing alcohol is far more harmful than cannabis.

While he wasn't given a specific answer, cannabis was added to the smoking materials already banned within all city parks when it was legalized in Canada in 2017. Cigarettes and vaping products were already banned.

On the subject of long weekends, staff indicated RCMP and bylaw are already stretch thin on long weekends without adding more potential service calls into the mix.

"What council said is that would be confusing to the public to understand so, what council said through debate and discussion is that we believe it should be every day until Oct. 6 and include long weekends.

"It's going to be too difficult for people to say you could on Thursday but you can't on Saturday especially when they are here over that stretch of time."

Coun. Rick Webber suggested removing long weekends could actually result in more calls for bylaw and RCMP with people not understanding the bylaw.

Council also debated at length whether glass, such as wine bottles should be allowed.

They said no.

"We didn't want on the beaches. If you are going to go down and have a drink, if it's a beverage that's in a can, it's going to be in the can, if it's a beverage that's in a glass before you get there you have transferred it from that glass container into something that is non-breakable," said Dyas.

"If you have a wine bottle, you pour it into a container then pour it into your glass."

Wooldridge also asked specifically about waste, particularly around recyclables within the parks.

While there is interest, parks manager Blair Stewart says while there are people that really want to recycle there is a segment that don't want to take the time and once there is contamination within the recycling bag, it can no longer be recycled.

"I appreciate that perspective...but the fact remains if we do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result we are never going to focus on diversion," said Wooldridge.

His attempt to make a motion around recycling was shot down by the mayor who refused to accept the motion preferring instead to wait a week or so to allow staff to craft something that could then be discussed around the table rather that slap something together on the fly.

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