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You can sip an adult beverage in North Van’s Capilano River Park this summer

Allowing alcohol in certain parks has been generally positive, North Shore municipalities say

Soon, park goers will be able to pair the stunning views with their choice of booze at the picnic area near Cleveland Dam.

The section of Capilano River Regional Park is set to join the list of alcohol-permitted public lands in North Vancouver, after a Metro Vancouver board approval in late March.

The popular spot that comes with a perfect view of the Ch’ich’iyúy Elxwíkn (Twin Sisters), also known as the Lions, is one of six regional parks selected by Metro for a pilot that will run June 28 to Oct. 14, with alcohol consumption allowed at any time during park hours, which are 7 a.m. to​ 10 p.m.​

In a report, Metro staff said the program will provide opportunities for visitors to connect with friends and family in places other than bars, restaurants and homes, allowing more chances to “connect with nature.”

Criteria for selected sites include highly visible, non-remote locations with emergency vehicle access, as well as features that support visitor connection (views, waterfronts, benches, picnic sites).

But Metro’s decision to approve the pilot isn’t without controversy. In a letter submitted by Fraser Health authority, three health officers cautioned against the move. They cited a rise in alcohol consumption in B.C. over the past decade, and an associated annual cost burden of $2.8 billion.

Metro staff said data collected during the pilot will inform management of the sites, as well as longer-term public policy related to responsible alcohol consumption.

How has allowing alcohol in parks gone on the North Shore?

The cocktail of public parks and public consumption on the North Shore has gone down well so far.

After launching pilots during the pandemic, alcohol-allowed zones became a permanent fixture in 2022 across the city and district of North Vancouver, and in West Van.

According to the City of North Van – which in 2020 became the first Canadian jurisdiction outside Quebec to open up spaces for public consumption – it’s been a “generally positive” experience.

“There have been minimal issues from a park operations perspective as a result of alcohol-allowed areas, and if anything, there has been an increase in positive socialization,” said CNV section manager of parks, Derek Priestly.

“Families are able to enjoy the parks while also enjoying an adult beverage, which has helped demonstrate responsible behaviour to those who used to drink in parks without such designated areas,” he said. “There has been an increase in food containers and recycling associated with the program, so we are continuing to promote the idea of ‘pack out what you pack in.’”

Over in West Van, the bylaw department hasn’t received a significant number of complaints related to the drinking zones.

“Many of the concerns that arise for alcohol consumption in parks relate back to Ambleside Beach and field areas, where alcohol is not permitted,” said bylaw manager Matthew O’Connor.

“There has been somewhat of a carry-over effect as many users that we engage with believe that it extends from Ambleside to Dundarave and do not realize that there are specific zones where alcohol is permitted, and that they are not all-encompassing,” he said.

Signage is in place in all areas to clearly show where alcohol consumption is allowed, O’Connor said, adding that it’s been a “fairly quiet” issue for bylaws, as most people adhere to the zones.

The District of North Vancouver’s program has been running smoothly as well.

“While there have been no issues, staff continue to monitor the parks where alcohol consumption is permitted,” spokesperson Ryan Schaap said.

Here’s a map of all the North Shore parks where drinking alcohol is currently allowed.