drinking in parks toronto

This is how many people were actually charged for drinking in Toronto parks last year

Toronto residents were understandably bummed to find out that there will be no legal drinking in parks this summer, but Mayor John Tory is here to assure you that you likely won't actually get a ticket for doing so.

Speaking in response to a question about whether he thinks not legalizing alcoholic consumption in parks unfairly disadvantages lower-income residents who don't have back yards in which to sit and drink, Tory said Wednesday that he supports the idea of looking into how this law can eventually be changed.

"I've been on the record for some time as being favourably disposed to taking a look at these laws so as to consider the notion of people having a glass of wine or a can of beer when they're visiting a park, and people are doing this in any event," he said.

And he also pointed to the fact that just 69 people were ticketed for drinking in parks last summer, implying that this isn't a law that tends to be heavily enforced.

"In a city of three million people, in a year, last year, which had heavy use of the parks, and there are 1,500 parks across the city, there was the grand total of 69 tickets issued last year in respect of people having a drink in a park," he said. 

"And my guess is that the vast majority of those 69 tickets were not issued to people who are having a glass of wine or a can of beer."

The city's Economic and Community Development Committee voted to effectively reject councillor Josh Matlow's motion entitled "Enjoying a Drink Outdoors: Providing Safe, Responsible and Equitable Options for All Torontonians" Tuesday, crushing the hopes of all those who dreamed of drinking in a park without having to hide their illicit beverage in an opaque water bottle this summer.

The motion has been "referred" to staff for consideration but, with no date on which they must report back, it's safe to say the motion has been killed for this year. 

"The committee referred the motion off to staff with zero timeline for it coming back," wrote Matlow on Twitter following the decision. "During this pandemic summer, the very time when we don't want people congregating indoors, placing unreasonable restrictions on the use of our parks is inequitable & wrong."

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim

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