Categories News

Staff recommend pilot that allowed alcohol drinking in some Toronto parks be made permanent

Toronto city staff are recommending that a pilot allowing alcohol consumption in select public parks be made permanent.

In a report released Thursday, Parks, Forestry and Recreation staff said the program “was implemented with a high level of satisfaction among park visitors, few issues arising, and minimal operational impacts.”

The pilot program approved by city council last summer allowed people aged 19 and older to drink alcoholic beverages at 27 public parks from Aug. 2 to Oct. 9.

Staff said 92 per cent of those who visited a pilot park and were surveyed said they were satisfied during their visit, 90 per cent felt safe, and 88 per cent said people who chose to drink at the park were considerate.

In addition, there were minimal increases in 311 service requests for noise, behaviour or garbage bins at the participating parks, staff said, noting that not all calls were attributable to the pilot.

There was also no increased need for police present at most pilot parks and no increase in hospital emergency room visits due to alcohol compared to 2022, staff said.

In the report, staff also shared that people who experienced the program were more supportive of maintaining or expanding it. A public opinion survey they conducted found that 46 per cent of residents supported allowing drinking in parks, 23 per cent were neutral, and 30 per cent opposed.

Given the positive feedback, staff are suggesting that council approve transitioning the 27 participating pilot parks to permanent locations where alcohol drinking is permitted.

Staff are also recommending that each ward has a park where alcohol consumption is allowed that meets the council-approved criteria for health and safety and is supported by the local councillor. There were no parks in Etobicoke that participated in the pilot.

“If approved, staff will continue to monitor implementation and provide ongoing updates to local Councillors regarding issues arising in parks where alcohol consumption is allowed as well as report back with a status update in (the second quarter of) 2025,” the report read.

The Economic and Community Development Committee will consider the report during its meeting next week.