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Test project to allow drinking at Victoria Park in Kitchener deferred by council

Victoria Park in Kitchener, Ont. Lupin/Wikimedia Commons

Kitchener city council voted to defer a pilot project that would have allowed people to drink at Victoria Park after Waterloo regional police and area residents expressed concerns.

Council had directed staff to look into the idea last December after a similar move in Toronto proved to be a success.

According to a report from staff, the province changed the rules in 2019 to allow people to consume alcohol in parks but the measure would have to be allowed by municipalities as well.

Thus far, Toronto has been the only city to allow people to drink in parks. That municipality ran a test project in 2023 that proved to be a success for the most part. Toronto has opened up the option at more parks throughout the city this summer.

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There are limitations on the project including whether it is in the vicinity of a school and the size of the park.

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Kitchener’s main park, which would meet the size requirement of being more than 1.5 hectares, would have been the main testing ground for the pilot project this summer.

According to the report, police were concerned about whether they had the ability to properly monitor and enforce the project at the park.

The report noted that the neighbourhood surrounding the park has had issues over the past few years with illegal drug and alcohol consumption and that residents voiced concerns over the issues.

“Although some of the larger issues have been addressed by bylaw enforcement staff, there are ongoing bylaw enforcement and WRPS enforcement issues in Victoria Park that continue to persist and staff are actively trying to address these concerns,” the report noted. “Victoria Park is therefore not recommended as an eligible park for a pilot.”

It also said insurance would be an issue for the pilot project if the local police service was not on board.

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