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What if booze laws actually made sense?

Jody Vance discovers unicorns – gas stations selling beer – in a BC town that somehow has not devolved into post-apocalyptic chaos.
Unicorn 3
It exists!

Let’s talk about drinking in public.

According to the Government of BC website: “You cannot drink liquor in a public place unless that public place is licensed or designated by a municipality or regional district as a place where liquor can be consumed. However, you may drink liquor in a residence or private place, such as outdoors on your property or at our campsite.”

Why a campsite and not a beach? Why a campsite but not a park? Are citizens at parks and beaches less responsible than those at campsites?

There is major room for Middle on our outdated booze rules.

Take festivals, for example. At Greek Day on West Broadway, you can buy beer with your order of fries and walk the strip with said beverage in hand. Fast forward two weeks and another great festival, Khatsalano Day on West 4th. The event is outstanding — it was jammed with food trucks, local artisan booths, live music and the mother of all beer garden line-ups.

What’s the point of corralling people, in roped in spaces, to have a beer?

When will there be movement toward fair Middle on responsible consumption of alcohol in public in this City?

We often ask this question in summertime, as we grab our picnic supplies and head to parks and beaches: “why can’t we bring a six pack with us, legally?”

It’s 2019, adults deserve the right to have the assumption of maturity on this file. We should be long past archaic government restrictions.

Another head scratcher is the ability to purchase liquor at our local shops, grocers or — gasp — gas station.

The nay-sayers push back forcefully that such evolution to open sales would “cause a spike in alcoholism!”

There is much to be concerned about when alcohol becomes an addiction – but I’d argue alcoholism is not a product of where booze is sold. Alcoholics will find their drug of choice regardless of permits and zoning.

Over the long weekend we took a trip to Chilliwack. Along the way, I spotted what I thought was a unicorn: a gas station/liquor store.

Needing gas in the hybrid, we stopped. At the pump I had issues with payment so went inside. Lo and behold, there stood a very young cashier with a wall of 26ers behind her. No “separated space,” no BC Government employee attire.

After sorting out my payment, I walked out and realized there was another gas station liquor store directly across the street. Pulling out of the lot, I realized that next door was a grocery store with a full liquor store.

That’s three in one tiny block in Yarrow, BC.

Is Yarrow more mature than Vancouver? Are the folks rolling through on their way to Cultus Lake (10 minutes down the busy stretch) somehow more responsible than citizens two hours down the highway in Vancouver, wanting to shop for beer wine and spirits while they get their groceries?

So many questions.

Facts are facts. Unruly drinkers, hooligans and bad actors, are always going to break the law, cause disturbances and generally be the worst-case scenario regardless of restrictions.

Those jerks should not mean that four adults, clearly older than legal drinking age, walking Khatsalano days with red solo cups should be stopped by cops on bikes to dump their beverages.

Our current rules are flawed.

Rather than searching for the couple playing cards at the beach with cider, and handing them hundreds of dollars in citations…what if instead the mandate said look for drunk and disorderly disruptors.

This topic always stirs up the back and forth. The Middle lives in the “you do you” mentality. If you don’t want to drink, don’t. We all have people in our lives who shouldn’t drink at all, but the idea that only selling in a separate space will stop them is naive.

The photos of my Yarrow unicorns are attached to this column — I assure you: unicorns do exist…just not in The City of Vancouver.

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.