(James MacKenzie/Black Press Media)

(James MacKenzie/Black Press Media)

‘Beer on the Beach’: more picnic than protest in Greater Victoria

Campaign for Real Ale wants laws changed to allow responsible people to enjoy alcohol in public

By James MacKenzie

No one got out of control on Sunday afternoon at Craigflower-Kosapsom Park, and that’s exactly what the organizers for the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) wanted.

The group invited the public to join them in having a beer to purposefully and openly violate drinking in public laws. The protest was to open up dialogue around public consumption and work towards having the laws changed.

In total, about 20 individuals cracked, twisted, or popped open their beer of choice while enjoying a picnic and playing a game of bocce ball. If it wasn’t for the banner hanging from a pair of trees and some matching CAMRA t-shirts, there was little to differentiate this protest from any other small gathering of people having a picnic at the beach.

“I think this is a good start,” said CAMRA Victoria President Greg Garner while drinking a Fuggles and Warlock’s Pixel Pilsner. “Here we are, a small crowd, having a pretty good time and no one is doing anything inappropriate. I think it sends the message that responsible consumption in public spaces is very doable.”

READ MORE: Victoria group makes pitch for ‘Beer on the Beach’

According to the event organizers, drinking on the beach happens all the time, with participants listing various reasons for why they wanted to attend the protest.

“If we’re not hurting anyone, why can’t we have a beer,” said Lisa Troy, who was drinking from a reusable cup.

“It’s sad that there are people shooting up on Pandora, but I can’t have a beer in the park with a friend while playing a game of bocce,” said Charles Honsberger, who was playing the game with one hand and holding his beer with the other.

Although not everyone agrees that drinking at the beach is a good idea. A Facebook poll on our Greater Victoria pages revealed that while the majority of the 2,000 respondents think drinking responsibly at public beaches should be allowed, other people expressed concerned for the safety of children and doubt people will continue to be responsible after tipping back a few alcohilic beverages.

“Can we please have one alcohol free zone to bring our children,” commented one person. “The alcoholism rate is rising drastically so sure let’s just let people get drunk everywhere.”

“No, some people drink responsibly, until they don’t,” another stated. “It’s an invitation for someone to ruin it for the rest.”

A third noted,“In our society it simply doesn’t work for all. Unfortunately there are many who think it’s an excuse to behave with ignorant aggression and disrespect.”

Mark Rennie, CAMRA Victoria’s treasurer, said he is aware of people’s concerns but feels they are mostly due to people being reluctant to change.

“We’re just here playing bocce, catching up with our club members, having a beer and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal,” he said while drinking a Phillips Tiger Shark. “As much as this is a fun social thing today, this is just a start to the conversation and a demonstration that you can be responsible while having a drink at the beach.”


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