drinking in parks

You can now legally have a beer in these 27 Toronto parks starting today

People have been cracking open tall cans of beer and sitting on the hill to watch a Toronto Maple Leafs (baseball) game for years and years. Now, people won’t be breaking any laws starting today.

After years of failed motions and moves, not to mention years of it already happening, Toronto residents will be allowed to consume alcohol in 27 parks as part of a pilot project beginning Aug. 2.

The City of Toronto’s economic and community development committee is set to consider a pilot program that would permit drinking alcohol in the designated parks. The initiative will run until Oct. 9.

The parks were chosen in consultation with councillors who expressed interest in having a park in their respective wards added to the list.

The proposal for the pilot program arose after Toronto City Council voted in favor of a motion in May, directing staff to develop a plan allowing personal alcohol consumption in certain parks during the summer and fall seasons. City staff engaged interested councillors to identify appropriate parks in their respective wards for the pilot program and subsequently compiled a list of the 20 proposed parks, listed below, as well as on the city website on the council agenda here.

    The pilot program’s design is rooted in public health guidance, considerations for public safety and operations, and the experiences of other Canadian cities that have implemented similar initiatives. According to the city, park visitors are expected to adhere to all relevant legislation, which includes the following guidelines:

    1. Selling or serving alcohol in any park still requires a permit and license.
    2. Park users must comply with the provincial Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, which prohibits public intoxication and the supply or service of alcohol to individuals under the age of 19.
    3. Alcohol consumption remains prohibited in parks not included in the pilot program.

    In all city parks, bylaw enforcement officers will prioritize educating park-goers about park rules and city bylaws, fostering public awareness and ensuring compliance. These officers regularly patrol parks as part of their routine duties and will continue to do so throughout the duration of the pilot program.

    “I’m pleased that local Councillors have opted-in a broad range of parks in 12 wards across the city to participate in this sensible pilot to allow alcohol in parks this summer and fall,” said Shelley Carroll, city councillor for Don Valley North, who proposed the project. “My thanks to city staff who have prepared this public health-informed approach and are ready to monitor and evaluate this pilot with added attention.”

    Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO