New Westminster should consider allowing alcoholic beverages on our beaches

If you haven’t been to New Westminster lately, you will find our waterfront has changed over the last few years. Former Mayor Wayne Wright led the charge to make strategic investments to beautify our waterfront and help make it a much more attractive place to be on those warm summer nights.

Long gone are the remnants of an industrial waterfront with log booms and factories. Head down there today and you’ll be pleased to discover white sandy beaches, custom-built lounge chairs and charming perennial gardens.

Just imagine how much better that experience could be if you made your way to Pier Park on a warm summer evening and could actually enjoy a nice glass of BC VQA wine while you soak in the beautiful view of the Fraser River. Unfortunately, that is currently against the law.

However, it doesn’t have to be if City Hall were to adopt a more modern approach toward our liquor laws.

In Vancouver, they recently revamped their liquor policy but were not prepared to go so far as to allow booze on the beach or sell beer/wine in grocery stores. There is much speculation as to why the Vision-dominated council, which purports to being so progressive – has become so regressive when it comes to selling liquor within its borders. But suffice to say, it all comes down to politics.

If our largest city isn’t willing to experiment with its liquor laws, maybe the time has come for our oldest city to give it a try?

I think New Westminster should consider piloting a two-year trial that would allow you to bring a limited amount of wine and/or other spirits on our local beaches.

I would support this if the pilot project had clear parameters regarding the amount and time allowed for consumption – as well as some clear and measurable objectives. After the trial period is up, the City could provide an independent assessment as to how well it went and whether the policy should be continued.

“I suspect our waterfront would quickly become a destination for young couples and families who want to sit by the water, enjoy a glass of the Okanagan’s finest Pinot Gris and soak in a bit of European lifestyle on our West Coast”

Needless to say, if the beaches become a haven for hooligans, Council could terminate the project in short-order. Something I would most certainly support.

However, I suspect our waterfront would quickly become a destination for young couples and families who want to sit by the water, enjoy a glass of the Okanagan’s finest Pinot Gris and soak in a bit of European lifestyle on our West Coast.

While they’re at it, New Westminster City Hall should look at permitting the sale of BC wines in local grocery stores as well. By doing so, it would position our city as one of the most modern jurisdictions in Metro Vancouver.

Interestingly I wrote about this topic a few years back when I was a columnist for 24 Hours Vancouver. While there has been significant progress since then to liberalize provincial liquor laws, little has been done in New Westminster.

What do you think? Do you support this type of initiative? Leave a comment and get the conversation started.