Toronto city councillors vote to make alcohol in parks permanent

Click to play video: 'Toronto pushes for expansion to parks where you can enjoy a drink'
Toronto pushes for expansion to parks where you can enjoy a drink
RELATED: After finding there were no major issues with the Alcohol in Parks Pilot, Toronto councillors are planning on making it permanent, while expanding it to the 12 wards without a participating park. Matthew Bingley reports – Mar 28, 2024

Drinking in certain city parks will be allowed for the first time across Toronto this summer after councillors greenlit an expansion of their alcohol-in-parks program.

On Thursday, Toronto city council voted to make permanent a pilot program that allowed people over the age of 19 to drink in certain parks.

The move came after a city staff report assessing the results of the 2023 pilot, which allowed drinks like wine and beer in 27 city parks, found the project was met with high satisfaction.

The report said a majority of survey respondents reported feeling safe at parks where drinking was briefly allowed, there was no increase in hospital emergency department visits due to alcohol, there was no spike in calls to police and those who chose to drink at a park were considerate of those around them.

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At the end of March, a council committee took the next step toward making the program a reality, recommending to their colleagues it be adopted full-time. Under its policy recommendation, every ward will have at least one park where drinking is allowed.

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The initial pilot operated on an opt-out basis, leaving swaths of the city without a legal outdoor drinking space. The entirety of Etobicoke, for example, did not have a park where drinking alcohol was allowed.

After council made the adoption of the full-time policy official, the City of Toronto said that “later this summer” a list of extra parks would be announced.

“The City will continue to monitor the alcohol in park locations, with a commitment to addressing issues that may arise and prioritizing investigations into matters that may pose risks to public use,” a city news release said.

“Bylaw enforcement officers regularly visit City parks to educate people about park rules and City bylaws and will continue to do so as part of their assigned duties.”

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