Toronto Authorities Launch New Initiative Inspired by Public Health Guidelines, Public Safety, Operational Considerations, and Precedents from Other Canadian Cities
TORONTO – LIVING – Today marks the official launch of a unique pilot program by the City of Toronto, allowing those aged 19 and above to consume their personal alcohol responsibly in 27 designated parks. The trial period for this program will extend until Monday, October 9.
Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, joined City staff at Earlscourt Park this morning to officially announce the two-month pilot program. Details regarding the program, including participating park locations, relevant regulations, and restrictions, are available on the City’s designated webpage: www.toronto.ca/alcoholinparks.
This new initiative follows the approval by the Toronto City Council in July, following consultations with local Councillors to identify suitable parks. The specific item the Council reviewed can be accessed here: https://secure.toronto.ca/council/agenda-item.do?item=2023.EC5.1.
The pilot program is premised on public health guidance, public safety, and operational considerations. It also draws inspiration from the experiences of other Canadian cities with similar programs.
Park visitors will be required to adhere to all applicable bylaws and legislation, including compliance with the provincial Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, which prohibits public intoxication and providing alcohol to individuals under 19 years old. The program maintains that alcohol consumption remains unpermitted in non-pilot parks, with a permit and license still necessary to sell or serve alcohol. Additionally, alcohol consumption is restricted near swimming pools, playgrounds, splash pads, or skateboard parks at the pilot program locations.
Toronto is the first Ontario municipality to introduce such a pilot program since the Province of Ontario gave municipalities the go-ahead to designate public spaces for personal alcohol consumption. Other Canadian jurisdictions that have enacted similar initiatives include Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton.
The City plans to evaluate the pilot’s impact on park users and adjacent communities through 311 reporting, on-site observations, and an online public survey. The survey can be accessed on the City’s Alcohol in Parks Pilot webpage: www.toronto.ca/alcoholinparks. The City will present the findings to the Council in early 2024.
Bylaw enforcement officers, as part of their regular duties, will conduct educational visits to public parks about the rules and City bylaws during the pilot period. As per usual, the City will address park complaints and prioritize investigations into matters that pose risks to public use and nuisance control.
The City will work closely with Toronto Public Health to disseminate information about safe alcohol consumption. More information about the health risks associated with alcohol and safer drinking tips can be found on the City’s Alcohol & Other Drugs webpage at www.toronto.ca/alcohol-and-other-drugs/.