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CAMRA BC President’s Statement: Public Consumption of Alcohol

Since 1985, The Campaign for Real Ale Society of British Columbia (CAMRA BC) has been advocating on behalf of craft beer consumers in BC. A big part of CAMRA BC’s mandate is to promote and protect BC liquor policies that positively impact BC craft beer consumers while educating those same consumers on their consumers’ rights under the law. Another large part of CAMRA BC’s mandate is to promote the responsible consumption of craft beer and cider in BC by trying to create a climate and culture where the consumption of alcohol is for enjoyment and the dangers of over-consumption and abuse are respected and understood.

For decades, it has been allowable by BC liquor policies for the public consumption of alcohol in the province’s public spaces in certain circumstances. Under provincial liquor policies, “a public place, or part of it, may be designated, by a bylaw of the municipality or regional district that has jurisdiction over the public place, as a place where liquor may be consumed.” (s 73, Liquor Control and Licensing Act of British Columbia).  

Despite this allowance, few, if any, municipalities or regional districts have taken the necessary steps to allow for controlled liquor consumption in public spaces and we all know that does not mean that liquor is not being covertly and responsibly enjoyed in these same places.

CAMRA BC would like to see this change.

It is our belief that the responsible consumption of alcohol should be allowed in designated public spaces like it is in many other jurisdictions in Canada (Alberta and Quebec), Europe and many states in the USA. In British Columbia we have strict laws about being intoxicated in a public place, underage drinking and driving while under the influence of alcohol so we believe that the responsible consumption of alcohol in designated public areas, accessible by foot and transit, during specified hours, is not a grave risk to the public or will contribute to the breakdown of family morals.

We are not talking about allowing copious amounts of cheap booze to be consumed on the beach, creating chaos and an atmosphere that would destroy the enjoyment of that beach for families and others in the area. We are talking about responsible adults enjoying a drink or two of their favourite craft beer or cider while enjoying a picnic, watching a beautiful sunset or while reading a booking in the great outdoors. We are talking about allowing this in places that are easily accessible without having to drive a vehicle. We are talking about allowing this consumption of alcohol during designated hours, in the open so that law enforcement knows what is going on, when it is going on and where it is going on.

CAMRA BC understands that not everyone in our society is comfortable with being in the vicinity where alcohol is being consumed, but by designating and making it known that there will be certain parks and beaches where this is allowed, those people can make an informed choice to go or not.

We have also seen how by allowing families to frequent on-site tasting lounges at breweries and cideries, and by allowing appropriate pubs to have family-friendly endorsements that the responsible consumption of alcohol does not mean an unfriendly environment for families for those who choose to frequent such establishments and we are certain that by allowing the responsible consumption of alcohol in designated areas in parks and beaches that this will prove successful as well.

Paddy Treavor

President, CAMRA BC

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