Alcohol in Parks Pilot

The Alcohol in Parks Pilot Program will allow alcohol consumption in twenty parks across Toronto. A set of guiding principles was developed to inform the park selection process.

From our June 29, 2023 e-newsletter

I also wanted to provide an update on a matter that is on the City's Economic and Community Development Committee July 6th agenda, a staff report titled Alcohol in Parks Pilot Program.

The report proposes a pilot program to allow personal alcohol consumption in twenty parks across Toronto. Under the proposed rules, drinking will be allowed inside the participating parks, except for children’s areas (playgrounds, splash pads, wading pools) and higher risk park amenities (outdoor pools and skate parks).

A set of guiding principles were developed to inform the park selection process. Based on those principles, staff recommended Lithuania Park in Ward 4 for a pilot. All other parks in Ward 4 were excluded as they did not meet the selection criteria.

Throughout this process, I have called on City staff to ensure community consultations be undertaken prior to implementation of any pilots to ensure we minimize any potential harms. Engaging the community to ensure our approach creates areas of safe alcohol consumption is critical. Alcohol use causes health and social harms. You can learn more about these concerns here: https://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/pdfs---public-policy-submissions/camh-alcoholpolicyframework-2019-pdf.pdf

Due to the timelines of this pilot, staff would not conduct community consultations. This means that the community would not have the opportunity to be thoroughly informed, ask questions and ensure that the pilot is tailored to meet local needs. Therefore I refrained from including Lithuania Park in Ward 4 as part of the pilot. While I support the consumption of alcohol in designated public spaces, we need to take a community-centred approach to making these changes in our City.

An evaluation of the pilot will be conducted to understand the impacts of the program for park visitors and the surrounding communities. I look forward to the results of this evaluation as well as opportunities to include community voices as we implement this program in a safe manner.

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