No fighting, no cussing and no littering could be seen or heard Wednesday afternoon at Okanagan Lake beach, just hours after the city’s newly loosened liquor regulations went into effect.
Among the handful of people who were openly sipping an alcoholic beverage in the sand was Amanda Little, who was pleased to take advantage of the one-month pilot project approved Tuesday by council.
“It’s a good start. I think they should bring it in every summer,” said Little, a Penticton native who now resides in Kelowna.
She believes the program would help attract tourists during the post-pandemic economic recovery.
“As long as people are being responsible and cleaning up after themselves, I can see it being a yearly thing,” said Little.
The pilot project, which runs every day through July 4, allows adults, from noon to 8 p.m., to drink in any of the parks or beaches along the lake from Power Street east through Marina Way beach.
Coun. Campbell Watt proposed the idea only two weeks ago as a way to get residents out of their homes and boost traffic for local alcohol manufacturers.
The only member of city council who didn’t vote on the plan Tuesday was Mayor John Vassilaki, who recused himself because his family owns a liquor store.
He said in an interview Wednesday he likes the idea, but would have preferred an education component at the start.
“North Americans just aren’t used to that type of entertainment – if you want to call it that – in public,” said Vassilaki.
“Young people, in my own personal opinion, they step out of line at times until they get used to the idea that this is going to be normal from now on.”
Meanwhile, the Penticton RCMP detachment confirmed Wednesday it advised against the program.
"The RCMP did express concern to council about our officers not being able to provide an increase in patrols of the beach,” spokesman Const. James Grandy said in a statement.
“However, as always, we will make our best effort to patrol and respond to all complaints appropriately, and help make the beach safe for everyone.”
The city issued a statement of its own Wednesday, warning that public intoxication and littering “will be prosecuted” or “result in a fine.”
Residents are invited to submit feedback on the project June 10-24 at www. shapeyourcitypenticton.ca. Public opinion will help council determine if the program should continue.