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Alcohol in Parks Townhall Summary

Thank you to all who joined us for our community online townhall on piloting legalized alcohol consumption in parks. People shared their viewpoints passionately and we had a good discussion.

BACKGROUND: A motion was passed a previous council to allow alcohol in parks to be piloted from August 2nd to October 9th 2023 across the city of Toronto for the councillors who choose to opt in. Vancouver previously piloted allowing alcohol consumption in parks which led to a permanent policy change allowing alcohol consumption in selected parks and beaches. Montreal currently allows alcohol consumption in parks as long as there is food being consumed.

Prior to the townhall, I met with city staff to discuss parameters that are being considered for deciding on which parks are appropriate for the pilot. Considerations for staff included:

  • Washroom access

  • Park size

  • Distance from schools

  • Not on waterfront

  • Drinking water access

  • Public transportation access

  • Density nearby

  • High visibility to first responders

  • Solid waste pickup

  • Minimal impact on natural landscapes

  • Equitable access for all

Some of the comments brought up by participants included:

  • a few people reminisced about wonderful moments with friends and family spent in parks across Europe with cheese and wine,

  • condo dwellers wanting a space they can congregate with bigger groups to enjoy a beverage which they cannot necessarily do so in their smaller condos and for those without backyards.

  • unruly behaviour at parks,

  • possible drinking and driving,

  • violence stemming from substance abuse

  • the negative impacts of alcohol

  • why are we not trusting adults

  • consider larger parks where people typically have larger gatherings in picnic areas (such as Sunnybrook Park), to be allowed to enjoy alcoholic beverages

  • we should avoid neighbourhood parks where families and children congregate.

Many of the participants in the town hall agreed, a 2 month pilot would be a good opportunity to collect data specific for Willowdale. This will be especially helpful in the event a policy change is made in the future that allows alcohol in parks. Even those who are against having alcohol in parks were amenable to a pilot for a limited amount of time.

As I reflected on the comments and city's suggested parameters, I am considering Lee Lifeson Park as an potential pilot location for Willowdale for the following reasons:

  • proximity to density in our community,

  • it has bathrooms on site,

  • there are no play structures at the park,

We have not yet made a firm decision and will use the results of our survey to further consider best next steps for Willowdale. I have to tell city staff by June 7 if Willowdale is opting into the pilot, and if we proceed with a pilot, which park(s) we have chosen.

Please complete our survey and help us make the best decision for our community. Click Here for the survey.


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