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Drinking alcohol is officially legal at some Toronto parks

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Torontonians will be able to crack a cold one in several public parks – permanently.

On Thursday, a majority of councillors voted to keep the pilot program that allowed people aged 19 and older to drink alcoholic beverages after a staff report found that it "was implemented with a high level of satisfaction among park visitors, few issues arising, and minimal operational impacts."

Staff said 92 per cent of those who visited a pilot park and were surveyed said they were satisfied during their visit, 90 per cent felt safe, and 88 per cent said people who chose to drink at the park were considerate.

The pilot initially ran from Aug. 2 to Oct. 9. It was later extended until the end of last month.

"Responsible adults can enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at a picnic in our beautiful parks. Toronto is the first municipality to introduce a program of this kind since the Province of Ontario authorized municipalities to designate public spaces for personal alcohol consumption in 2019," Mayor Olivia Chow said in a statement.

"We are taking a strategic and measured approach to implementing this program throughout the city and are drawing from the experiences of other Canadian municipalities."

 

In the report, staff also shared that people who experienced the program were more supportive of maintaining or expanding it. A public opinion survey they conducted found that 46 per cent of residents supported allowing drinking in parks, 23 per cent were neutral, and 30 per cent opposed.

Given the positive feedback, staff suggested that council approve transitioning the 27 participating pilot parks to permanent locations where alcohol drinking is permitted.

During Thursday's meeting, several councillors put forward motions to add some parks in their wards to the program. All their motions were approved.

On the other hand, five councillors submitted motions ordering city staff that no parks in their wards be designated for alcohol consumption. Their motions were defeated.

In their report, staff recommended that each ward has a park allowed for alcohol consumption, which meets the approved criteria and is supported by the local councillor. Most pilot locations were in downtown Toronto, while a few were in North York and Scarborough. No parks in Etobicoke opted into the program.

Staff said that if the program becomes permanent, they will "continue to monitor implementation and provide ongoing updates to local Councillors regarding issues arising in parks where alcohol consumption is allowed."

Here is a list of the 27 pilot parks that will permanently allow alcohol consumption:

  1. Campbell Avenue Playground and Park
  2. Cedarvale Park
  3. Christie Pits Park
  4. Corktown Common
  5. Dovercourt Park
  6. Dufferin Grove Park
  7. Earlscourt Park
  8. East Toronto Athletic Field
  9. Eglinton Park
  10. Greenwood Park
  11. Hillcrest Park
  12. June Rowlands Park
  13. Lee Lifeson Art Park
  14. McCleary Park
  15. Milliken Park
  16. Monarch Park
  17. Morningside Park
  18. Neilson Park
  19. Oriole Park
  20. Queen's Park
  21. Riverdale Park East
  22. Roundhouse Park
  23. Sir Winston Churchill Park
  24. Skymark Park
  25. Trinity Bellwoods Park
  26. Underpass Park
  27. Withrow Park

Here are the parks approved on Thursday to be part of the program:

Ward 9

  • Bert Robinson Park
  • McCormick Park
  • Wallace Emerson Park

Ward 24

  • Botany Hill Park
  • Confederation Park
  • North Bendale Park
  • Scarborough Village Park

Ward 3

  • Cloverdale Park
  • Etobicoke Valley Park
  • Fairfield Park
  • Grand Avenue Park
  • Home Smith Park

Ward 19

  • Stan Wadlow Park
  • East Lynn Park

Ward 14

  • Dieppe Park

Ward 21

  • Ashtonbee Reservoir Park
  • Thomson Memorial Park

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