As Toronto Pride prepares to allow visitors to participate in its inaugural ‘drink and carry’ program, concerns are being raised about the policy that would allow for bag and identification checks at any time.
“It’s the first time we are doing something like this,” Pride Toronto’s executive director Olivia Nuamah told Global News on Friday.
For $10 a day or $25 for the weekend Pride patrons will be able to purchase a wristband which will allows them to “drink and carry” between certain hours, at designated areas along Church Street between Isabella and Wood streets.
Pride veteran Gavin Hope said he was excited to learn about the program.
“It’s practical and I think it’s going be a lot more accessible for people to have more of a good time,” he said, but that excitement turned to concern when he learned about the details of the wristband waiver.
The terms and conditions read: “By purchasing a wristband, you agree to a bag check and I.D. check at any time.”
“I think this would make anyone uncomfortable,” Hope said.
Criminal lawyer Jordan Donich agreed.
“This leaves the obvious question, who will be searched, when and where? Unless everyone is searched equally at a specific point of access, this creates the perfect storm for racially profiled and arbitrary searches,” Donich wrote in a statement to Global News on Friday.
He added he also worries what kind of example this sets.
“This will also create a precedent for other street festivals and will undoubtedly be used as a tool to investigate other criminal charges.”
Meantime, lawyer Adam Vassos said, “if somebody is consuming alcohol lawfully, what is the justification of searching them?”
A question posed by others, as well.
“I’ve been to beach parties and beer gardens and they don’t search me randomly there … so why would they be allowed to here? This is a public place,” First time Pride-goer, Jodie told Global News.
But Pride is standing by their program.
“If you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to,” Nuamah said.
Gary Woodroffe, whose been to dozens of Pride celebrations said that’s exactly his plan, “I think it’s stupid and it is the main reason most people aren’t going to bother.”
Many hope the rules change for future Prides.