Second Greater Victoria municipality rejects alcohol in parks

Central Saanich council followed the lead of Saanich Monday night in rejecting the idea of allowing public drinking in municipal parks.

Several Central Saanich residents wrote to council to express their concern with drinking in parks, including Ray White, who said it was a “poorly considered idea.”

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He said he and his wife live near Pioneer Park and Ron Knott Park, and do not want to have afternoon drinking parties added to “the lack of peace and quietness” already there.

Arlene Antonik said she was writing to say “no, no, no” to the idea. She said she is a grandmother of six and wants parks to be kept “a safe and happy place for children to play and be with their families.”

Arlene Jones had a number of concerns, including the question of liability to the district. “There is no benefit to the community,” she said. “And there are so many more options of places to consume alcohol responsibly in this district.”

Drinking in parks is high in risks and low in benefits, said Dr. Lynda Miller, a founding member of the Saanichton Village Association. “Please look for positive ways to support the people through the pandemic.”

Donna Miller said she didn’t see a problem if drinking in parks is done in “a responsible fashion.”

Other concerns expressed by residents were that it could lead to drinking and driving or the ignoring of physical distancing as a means of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

Central Saanich Coun. Chris Graham, one of the councillors who submitted the motion to allow drinking in parks, said he was a little disheartened by the response from some of the letter writers.

“My motion came about because I’ve done some travelling in my life and most countries allow for public drinking in park settings and on beaches and places like that,” he said. “And quite surprisingly they’re very family-oriented locations. It doesn’t seem to cause problems.

“I think it’s unfortunate the assumption is Canadians aren’t mature enough to be able to do that.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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