Toronto plans to continue allowing alcohol consumption in designated parks after successful pilot program

East Toronto Athletic Field, next to the Ted Reeve Community Arena, at Main Street and Gerrard Street East.

By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Following a successful Alcohol In Parks Pilot Program, City of Toronto staff are recommending that the 27 parks that participated in the program now make permitted alcohol consumption in parks permanent.

The report also recommends that “a minimum of one park in each City of Toronto ward shall be designated for personal alcohol consumption” moving forward.

According to officials, the Alcohol In Parks Pilot was received well by the public and didn’t cause any major issues through the program’s duration.

“At no point during the Pilot were enforcement staff in Beaches-East York required to attend the park in response to complaints and city staff have confirmed that this was the common experience in all participating parks across Toronto,” said Beaches-East York Councillor Brad Bradford.

Beaches-East York added just one park to the program (the East Toronto Athletic Field northeast of Main Street and Gerrard Street East) but Bradford said that he remains supportive of allowing Torontonians to responsibly enjoy alcoholic beverages outdoors.

“The people in our city, especially those who live in apartments and condos, should be able to catch up with family and friends while enjoying a drink or two outdoors responsibly,” he said.

The program’s success stretched beyond city wards with minimal participants, however.

Toronto-Danforth, which included Greenwood, Monarch, McCleary, Riverdale and Withrow parks to the program, also reported a minimal increase in 311 calls.

In a March 27 news release, Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher, who moved a motion to extend the pilot last year, expressed delight at the recent staff recommendation.

“I am pleased we are proceeding with making the Alcohol in Parks Pilot Program permanent and expanding it to ensure residents in all areas of the city can responsibly enjoy an alcoholic beverage in a public park legally” she said.

Fletcher said that the community feedback about the Alcohol In Parks Program was positive with most people showing appreciation about the City of Toronto implementing policies that parallel those of many other major cities.

According to the City of Toronto, the pilot program did little to increase requests for police services at the 27 parks. Additionally, there was no spike in alcohol-related hospital emergency visits compared to the previous year leaving officials feeling confident that Toronto is capable of transitioning to public alcohol consumption on a more permanent basis.

“Instead of dedicating more resources to this pilot, our bylaws should simply be updated to reflect what already takes place everyday so that our city’s limited enforcement resources can be redirected to more important issues,” said Bradford.

City staff’s recommendations will be presented to councillors at Toronto City Hall during the Apr. 17 to Apr. 19 Toronto Council meeting.

If the councillors move forward with the recommendation, staff will continue to monitor the participating parks and provide a status update in the second quarter of 2025.

— Amarachi Amadike is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Beach Metro Community News. His reporting is funded by the Government of Canada through its Local Journalism Initiative.

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