Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Booze on Kelowna beaches? Mayor says ‘not at the moment’

Mayor Colin Basran says alcohol in public spaces is not on council’s radar right now — but that could change

Despite rumblings of alcohol soon being allowed at beaches and some other public spaces in neighbouring Penticton, the City of Kelowna will not be following suit.

“Not at the moment,” at least, according to Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran.

Currently, if you’re caught beer-in-hand at Kelowna beaches and parks, a bylaw officer will hand you a hefty $230 fine.

In Penticton, an item is set to go to council next week that could nix that city’s less hefty, but still discouraging $100 fine for drinking on the beach.

Penticton city staff will present recommendations next week, that if approved by council, would set in motion a five-week pilot project in which multiple parks and beaches across the South Okanagan city could see liquor restrictions removed. If approved, Pentictonites could be enjoying their favourite local beer or wine in public as soon as next Friday (June 5).

“As Penticton is home to 30 wineries, seven breweries and two distilleries, staff are preparing options for council to consider allowing locals and guests to enjoy those products in our beautiful outdoors,” explained Penticton’s director of development services, Blake Laven.

“If council approves the pilot, all rules of the BC Liquor Act, including responsible behaviour, still apply.”

Kelowna, with its similarly sized cohort of alcohol production facilities, will not see such an initiative come before city council any time soon. The mayor said the city wants to see how other initiatives meant to help local businesses pan out, such as the enhanced patio program, before making any further moves.

“It doesn’t mean that couldn’t change,” he said. “But at this moment there are no plans to look at something like that.”

Penticton city staff are expected to present their recommendations to council at its June 2 meeting.

After the five-week pilot, Penticton council will decide to either continue to allow drinking in public places or to end it, depending on the outcome.

“It could be a big disaster, who knows,” Laven said. “I think if there are a few incidents and we’re getting increased RCMP and bylaw calls it’s easy enough to just close it and abandon it.”

-With files from Jesse Day

READ MORE: POLL: Drinks in the park in Vernon?

READ MORE: Penticton may soon allow drinking alcohol in some public places

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