Toronto says it won't be cracking down on illegal drinking in parks this summer
Though Toronto last month shot down a motion that would have allowed residents to legally drink beer and wine in its parks this summer, it seems that those who like to imbibe in a public green space in the absence of, well, anywhere else to do it these days won't actually be punished for doing so.
The topic was briefly touched upon in a press release about COVID-19 restriction enforcement issued by the City on Friday, which stated that anyone having a few bevvies in the park won't be considered a priority for enforcement efforts.
"The City continues to give priority to events that pose the greatest risk to health, such as large gatherings or parties," the statement reads, adding that gatherings in parks will be dispersed if and when they are discovered.
It then goes on to say "bylaw enforcement officers are also focused on stopping people from bringing large amounts of alcohol into public places," but that "individuals consuming an alcoholic beverage in a park with their household are not a priority for enforcement."
Notable shift in messaging in this city press release re: drinking in parks: “Individuals consuming an alcoholic beverage in a park with their household are not a priority for enforcement.” https://t.co/Ykt1OYWSiH pic.twitter.com/8h8LLef6nO— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) May 7, 2021
This seems to contradict the rejection of the motion rejected just days ago, which was originally put forth by Councillor Josh Matlow, who pointed out that in the absence of patios and in the interest of discouraging indoor gatherings, residents without the luxury of their. own private outdoor space "should not be left with unsafe options."
He of course advocated for the legal and responsible consumption of alcoholic beverages of 15% ABV or less as a pilot over the coming summer months.
2/2)…open dialogue and genuine efforts to move forward together in support of common goals- equity for all residents and public health. During this pandemic summer, rather than congregate indoors, let’s get outside and keep each other well.— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) May 7, 2021
As many of us already know, drinking in the city's parks was already a bit of a grey area to begin with, though that was notably before pandemic orders came into play.
Though authorities no longer have the short-lived authority to stop people in public places to verify where they live and what they're doing out of the house amid the stay-at-home order and may now be overlooking park drinkers, residents are reminded that outdoor gatherings in Ontario are limited to only those who live together.
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