toronto park drinking

Toronto politician vows to fight drinking in parks and people have thoughts

Toronto is officially one step closer to allowing alcohol consumption in certain parks across the city — however, one local politician doesn't seem to be a fan of the highly-anticipated pilot program. 

City councillor James Pasternak, who currently represents Ward 6 - York Centre, is one of the few Toronto politicians who has publicly spoken out against the Alcohol in Parks pilot program. 

"Our parks are there for the quiet enjoyment of residents of Toronto," Pasternak previously told CBC News. "We don't have the resources to clean up broken bottles, to enforce the consumption of alcohol, or to break up any kind of fights or any kind of inappropriate behaviour in our parks." 

His opposition to the pilot program prompted lots of mixed reactions on Twitter, with some citing the successes of similar programs in other Canadian cities. 

"It is a terrible policy, yes. It should happen much sooner, and not be time limited. It should also apply to all parks, not just mostly those in the core," one person responded

"If the Skydome, the most public space with 50,000 people, allows drinking, then why not in a public park?" another person asked

On July 6, the Economic and Community Development Committee is set to consider the program, which would allow people to legally and responsibly enjoy alcohol in 20 parks across the city

In May, city council voted in favour of a motion which directed staff to develop the pilot program, consult interested councillors on hosting a pilot park in their ward, and prepare a list of parks most suited for the program. 

Following review by the Economic and Community Development Committee, recommendations will go before council at its meeting from July 19 to 21.

Last year, the city said no tickets were issued for drinking in parks, however, even with the proposed pilot in place, existing bylaws regarding the consumption of alcohol in parks will still be in effect. 

If you're visiting a park that's not a part of the program, you must acquire a permit and license to sell or serve liquor, and cannot consume or possess an open container of liquor. 

Pasternak's ward is notably absent from the list of recommended parks, which only features sites in 12 out of the city's 25 wards. Parks were chosen based on strict selection criteria, which specifically ruled out sites situated on the waterfront.

The pilot program is set to run from Aug. 2, 2023 to Oct. 9, 2023. 

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert 

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