+ update on the Alcohol in Parks pilot
On June 26, 2023, Toronto residents elected Olivia Chow as the new Mayor of Toronto. I want to wish Olivia and her team a hearty congratulations. I look forward to welcoming her officially as the Mayor of Toronto on July 12.
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.
Ban of leaf blowers at IEC yesterday
City of Toronto staff released a report outlining two paths forward to restrict the use of leaf blowers and other small lawn equipment across the city:
- Option A recommends that City Council reaffirm its support for the City of Toronto phasing out the use of leaf blowers by its own staff and contractors, but does not move towards a city-wide ban.
- Option B recommends that Council support a ban on the use of gas-powered lawn equipment and begin working towards the implementation of a bylaw to impose the ban in 2024.
The staff report was considered by the Infrastructure and Environment Committee yesterday. I supported Option B.
One hour of leaf blowing equals a 1800-kilometre drive. Leaf blowers and similar lawn equipment emit dangerous pollutants and generate disruptive noise, both of which harm our ecosystems and pose a threat to our health.
Toronto should continue to our work to reduce carbon emissions by banning gas-powered leaf blowers and similar lawn equipment city-wide.
The staff report will be considered by City Council during its July session.