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Time to crack one open

Jody Vance: People are safest outdoors. They have a need for connection. And yet – they still can’t have a glass of wine at the beach.
Oh, just let them have a fucking beer.

We’ve been told repeatedly that outside is the safest place to gather – and yet, that does not translate to elected officials making it legal to socialize outside?

It’s long past time to pull the plug on the archaic narrative that freedom to consume alcohol will somehow spark Armageddon.

We’ve learned a lot lately about our collective maturity. And if we can responsibly handle a drink in a public space, then why loosen restrictions at 22 parks in Vancouver? Why not all?

Last year around this time, I used this space to advocate for expediting patio permits for restaurants to expand. Today the ask is much broader.

Let’s be honest here. “Meet at the beach with a coffee” is far less enticing than “cocktail on the QT in the living room.” Week in and week out we hear that new case numbers get traced back to private in-home gatherings.

People miss one another, and socializing over a drink is as old as civilization itself. It seems like a no-brainer to remove the risky gathering piece of this puzzle.

So many are already doing it anyway, almost to the degree of the numbers who smoked pot when that was illegal. Remember that? Remember the predictions that legalizing what was already happening would be a debacle?

Why are we asking cops to roll around on four-wheelers to check the coolers of families sitting on blankets?

This pandemic has proven that nature is our safest space. Enduring this last year of social distancing has highlighted just how important a yard or patio is – and how painful it is to have neither.

This week’s Middle asks “what the hell is the hold up on loosening liquor laws to allow responsible adults to have a drink at beaches and parks?

It should come as no surprise that the largest roadblock in BC’s biggest city is the Vancouver Park Board. They are very good at roadblocks where they are not needed and targeting agendas that really do nothing for the masses.

Action is needed. Perhaps the Mayor of Vancouver should write a letter to the Province.

Yes, that is some shade – or in this context, maybe a shot. It’s just so frustrating.

Please do take this as a plea: think about the isolated, without access to outdoor space. Consider the mental health issues and need for socializing during this (hopefully) final summer of COVID-19?

Bars and restaurants have been shuttered for almost a year, and people need places to safely connect and unwind. Watching a sunset with a glass of wine shouldn’t be the preserve of those with yards – and surely isn’t even in the ballpark of what we saw pouring out of clubs pre-pandemic.

To the argument that “our city is not mature enough”, I ask: what makes some spots more mature than others? Delta, Port Coquitlam?

Sure, have caveats. Cut off times. Ensure extra recycling bins. If you must, mandate having food with drinks, like marshmallows standing by to “cook” over the beach fire.

Enough of the Park Board “pilot project” and pull the pin on it being their liquor sales. It should be BYOB, preferably purchased from local restaurants and liquor stores.

This is not hard math. It is a recipe to help keep folks safe from the virus, mend mental health otherwise starved in isolation and loneliness. There needs to be a mandate to bring back a sense of fun and celebration for the summer months ahead.

Please, Premier Horgan, be the Dad that tells BC citizens it’s time to give the benefit of the doubt and allow responsibly popping a cold one in public.

I’ll be the first to toast you.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.