Toronto City Council considers lifting liquor ban in parks again

Toronto city councilors will again be asked to sign a pilot project permitting consumption of certain alcoholic beverages in city parks at a meeting this week.

Toronto-St. Paul’s Count. Josh Matlow has filed a motion proposing that the city lift the ban on drinking outside in parks between 11am and 9pm, as part of a pilot project that will run from May 21 to October 31.

A similar motion was also tabled by Matlow last April, but was essentially shelved when members of the city’s economic and community development committee referred it back to staff for further consideration.

“There are many people who have backyards and they are privileged to have a cold beer and barbecue in their homes on a hot summer day, but for so many Torontonians who don’t, who don’t have outside access to their apartment or condo. , they want the same ability to be able to go and just meet up with a friend or relative and have a glass of wine with a picnic or a cold beer on a bench with a friend. That’s currently not allowed in Toronto’s parks,” Matlow told CP24 on Tuesday evening.

Matlow’s motion states that the pilot project would only allow the consumption of beverages containing no more than 15 percent alcohol, essentially limiting the beverages that would be allowed for beer, wine and cider.

The motion also stipulates that the consumption of alcoholic beverages would be banned “near playgrounds and sports fields, in accordance with the smoking ban”.

Mayor John Tory said in a conversation with CP24 on Wednesday morning that he is open to exploring ways for members of the public to have a drink in a city park under certain circumstances.

But he suggested that a member’s motion, uninformed by staff analysis, is not the right approach.

“I think it’s appropriate that we look at how we can have more flexible rules for getting people to have a drink, but I don’t think it’s the way to have a motion like this where a councilor makes a set of rules and we make policy that way’, he said.

Tory said he is concerned about the “disruption to people’s use of the parks” in the event that people “get carried away with drinking”.

However, Matlow pointed out that “people who drink or behave badly in parks don’t care what the statutes read” and are a “existing problem”.

“They already do and we need to address that and enforce that, but the average person just wants to have a cold beer on a hot summer day with a friend and just enjoy our parks,” he said.

As part of his motion, Matlow is also asking staff to ensure that as many parks and beaches as possible have bathrooms, including portable toilets.

He is also asking for additional waste and recycling containers to be placed in parks.

“It’s a very exciting proposal that I think has a lot of merit because there are a lot of people drinking unofficial beer and wine in the park anyway and having a great time. So I think if we can legalize this in some way, it just makes sense,” Meg Marshall, the Queen West BIA community managers, told CP24 on Wednesday morning. “Our local businesses see this as a great economic driver because as we know with CafeTO and the patios they can only accommodate so many people.”

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