Skip to content

Vancouver council extends public drinking at seven plazas, one parklet

Cambie, Granville and Main streets on tap to continue as spots to legally consume alcohol.
On Wednesday, April 10, city council approved the continuation of a program that allows adults to legally consume alcohol at select plazas in Vancouver.

Update: City council unanimously approved Wednesday the seven plazas and parklet continue its programming this year. Original story follows below.

A city staff report that goes before council Wednesday recommends seven plazas centred mainly around Cambie, Granville and Main streets — and a parklet in the Downtown Eastside — to continue to be spots where adults can legally consume alcohol.

“Staff have no concerns regarding the suitability of any of the proposed sites for alcohol consumption,” the report said. “The community partners at all sites are experienced at managing public alcohol consumption and are capable and willing to do so again in 2024.”

The seven plazas are:

• Cambie Street and 17th Avenue

• Cambie Street and 18th Avenue

• Granville Street and 13th Avenue

• Granville Street and 14th Avenue

• Main Street and 21st Avenue

• Lot 19 (855 West Hastings St.)

• Maple Street and 4th Avenue

All locations except for the plaza at Maple Street and 4th Avenue are proposed to operate year-round, beginning May 15; the Maple Street plaza would operate from May 15 to Oct.16, according to the staff report.

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily

Each of the plazas have organizations or community groups that manage the spaces.

Hours of operation from May 15 to Oct. 16 at all sites will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Oct. 17 to May 14, 2025.

All sites will have signs that direct visitors to a nearby park bathroom, a publicly accessible business washroom or to a portable washroom in the plaza.

“Washroom service hours similarly determine which hours residents can consume alcohol in the proposed plazas, with permissible hours adjusted to the seasonal hours of nearby park bathrooms, business hours, and hours when community steward partners are able to lock and unlock portable washrooms,” the report said.

'Dignified outdoor space'

Meanwhile, the PHS “drinker’s lounge parklet” at 111 Princess St. is proposed to get a three-year extension, from May 15 to May 15, 2027.

The community-managed alcohol program, which is overseen by the PHS Community Services Society and Vancouver Coastal Health, was launched in March 2021.

The site, which was created to reduce public drinking at a bus stop near the Astoria Hotel, is proposed to continue operating daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“Enabling alcohol consumption at this site provides a safe and dignified outdoor space for program participants,” the staff report said. “The parklet has not had any complaints or issues raised from surrounding businesses or the VPD in previous years.”

The council of the day in 2020 launched a trial to allow adults to drink alcohol in a select number of public places.

The move was in response to demands for more public space to socialize during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help businesses recover that could only offer take-out food because of public health restrictions.

92% satisfaction rate

Rachel Magnusson, the city’s branch manager of street activities, told council in March 2022 that neither the Vancouver Police Department nor Vancouver Coastal Health raised any concerns over the alcohol consumption program and locations.

“We may not hear about all health and safety issues that are in the plazas, but certainly from the perspective of our partners and ourselves, there didn't seem to be any issues,” said Magnusson, noting surveys returned a 92 per cent satisfaction rate with the program.

She also pointed out that the city’s monitoring of the plazas showed only about 20 per cent of people were consuming alcohol. Magnusson said the “core purpose” of the program was to give “low-cost flexible options for socializing.”

She credited the program’s success to business improvement associations and others who managed the sites and ensured on-site washrooms were available and locked at the end of the day.

City costs this year for implementation of infrastructure such as portable washrooms, signs and other site-specific needs will be managed within existing engineering budgets, said the staff report, which estimated the 2024 program to cost up to $10,000.

The costs do not include staff time.

[email protected]