Toronto City Council endorses pilot program to allow alcohol consumption in selected 27 parks

Personal alcohol consumtion in Toronto Parks pilot project. Representational image by Jamie Street on unsplash

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Toronto/CMEDIA; A pilot program to allow residents and visitors 19 years of age and older to consume alcohol in 27 parks across Toronto responsibly has been approved this week by Toronto City Council, a news release has said.

The City’s Alcohol in Parks webpage is now live.

Running from Wednesday, Aug 2, to Mon – Oct 9, 2023, the pilot program would cover the City parks, selected and confirmed in consultation with local Councillors.

The pilot program’s locations, requirements and restrictions on these parks can be learned by the residents and visitors on the City’s Alcohol in Parks webpage.

The Council decision is also available online.

A motion directing staff to develop a pilot program allowing personal alcohol consumption in some City parks this summer and fall was voted for support by the City Council in May 2023

Based on public health guidance, public safety and operational considerations, and other Canadian cities’ experiences with similar programs, this pilot as well and non-pilot parks, park users will be expected to follow all applicable legislation, including park users’ compliance with the provincial Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, which prohibits public intoxication and supplying/serving alcohol to people under 19 years old, alcohol consumption is not permitted in non-pilot parks, a permit and licence are still required to sell or serve liquor in any park.

Bylaw enforcement officers would enhance public awareness and achieve compliance by regularly visiting the City’s parks as part of their regular duties throughout the pilot to educate people about park rules and City bylaws.

Park complaints would be addressed by the City as always and prioritize investigations into matters that pose risks to public use and nuisance control.

The City’s Alcohol & Other Drugs webpage would provide information on health risks associated with alcohol and safer drinking tips.

Following the province of Ontario’s authorization of municipalities to designate public spaces for personal alcohol consumption., Toronto city is the first Ontario municipality to introduce a pilot program of this kind.

Cities in British Columbia and AlbertaIn launched pilot programs in 2020 and 2021 to allow the consumption of alcohol in some selected city parks.

Depending on the positive results of the pilot programs, most cities have extended pilots or transitioned to permanent programs, including Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

The impact of the pilot on park users and neighbouring communities would be evaluated by the City through 311 reporting, staff observations from the field and results of an online public survey, findings of which will be reported to Council in early 2024.

Continuing to work with Toronto Public Health, the City will share information about safe alcohol consumption.