A step in the right direction, or blatant hypocrisy?
By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
On May 28, news broke that Vancouver’s park board has approved several more beer gardens during Vancouver’s many summer festivals and, for the first time ever, beer carts on golf courses. This announcement means a lot of things for our infamous “No Fun City,” a title I’m sure we’re all sick of hearing.
For one, this obviously means a slightly increased party atmosphere this summer. Some of this summer’s events include the Vancouver International Jazz Festival (June 21 to July 1), several Vancouver Urban Spaces events (July to September) the Lululemon SeaWheeze half-marathon (August 10), and the recently announced two-day Stanley Park 125th birthday extravaganza. Providing alcohol at these events can be considered a step-up in terms of bringing the community together (to reiterate what park board director Trevor Loke told The Metro), as scientists have proven alcohol contains the magical ability to loosen people up.
However, this approval—while I am actually happy about it—directly contradicts the banning of venues with liquor licenses hosting all-ages events, a liquor law which was passed just this January. The law was passed on the assumed understanding that inviting people of all ages to venues that are recognized for serving alcohol (to adults…) would encourage teens to drink prior to or to sneak alcohol in somehow—as the bars themselves wouldn’t be serving any alcohol at these events. So obviously there’s a level of hypocrisy going on when the otherwise family-oriented Stanley Park 125th is serving alcohol through liquor license-approved beer gardens. I also need to question the fact that these people will be directly drinking in front of children, something that would not have occurred at all-ages venue events.
Again, I’m glad there’s going to be more beer gardens in the city this summer. If nothing else, this is an excellent way to show the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCB) to go easier on independent venues that thrive on their liquor licenses. But I suppose there’s another dose of hypocrisy, when extremely local events such as indie film screenings and concerts are struggling with their liquor licenses, while tourist draws like the International Jazz Festival and the SeaWheeze half-marathon are allowed to sell alcohol.
After a couple years now of constant cutting and fighting with independent venues over their licenses (such as The Rio’s month-long series of protests last year), this park board approval is a bittersweet celebration. In the grand scheme of things, if community is honestly what the approval of these beer gardens is trying to promote, then liquor licenses should be easier to obtain for venues and events in general, especially for the local audience.
The other obvious downside to the approval of these beer gardens is that it’s likely they’ll be pretty pricey per drink. However, the money that comes from all liquor licenses, whatever the drinks may end up costing, is what supports these events and venues and keeps in business (and much of the profits will also be going to charities, so that’s a plus). With that, I am looking forward to a summer of beer gardens; if only in the hope that this will encourage looser liquor license laws in Vancouver (and also in the hope that it won’t cost $8 for a half-cup of beer).