Toronto City Council votes to develop pilot program allowing personal alcohol consumption in some parks this summer

2023 May 12

Today, Toronto City Council voted in support of a motion to develop a pilot program allowing personal alcohol consumption in some City of Toronto parks this summer.

The motion calling for the pilot, introduced by Councillor Shelley Carroll (Don Valley North), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee, and seconded by Councillor Chris Moise (Toronto Centre), Chair of the Board of Health, directs City staff to work with Councillors interested in hosting a pilot in their ward. Staff will consult with Councillors, provide a list of parks most suited for the pilot, and report back to the Economic and Community Development Committee on Thursday, July 6 with a recommended approach and necessary bylaw amendments; the recommendation would then go before Council during its July meeting. The proposed pilot is set to run from Saturday, August 5 to Monday, October 9, in parks where the local Councillor has opted into the program.

Council also requested that the report include advice from the Medical Officer of Health on any harm reduction, treatment or education programs to be in place prior to the approval and implementation of the pilot.

The City continues to take an education-first approach to enforcement to enhance public awareness of City bylaws and ensure compliance. No tickets were issued for drinking in parks last year. Even with the proposed pilot, existing bylaws regarding liquor in parks, enforced by the City, will continue to apply in all parks. Park users must still acquire a permit and licence to sell or serve liquor in any park and cannot consume or possess an open container of liquor in parks not included in the pilot.

Additionally, park users must continue to abide by the provincial Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, which includes rules related to public intoxication and underage drinking.

This motion builds on Council’s 2022 direction for City staff to report to the Economic and Community Development Committee this year with options and necessary bylaw amendments to allow alcohol consumption in City parks. Staff will now be reporting back to the Committee in July with a recommended approach.

The motion is available on the City’s website.