This week at City Council, a two-month pilot program to allow personal alcohol consumption in select parks across our City was approved to run from August 2 to October 9. In our ward the two parks have been selected, Roundhouse Park and Trinity Bellwoods Park. The Corktown Common has also been selected, just outside the eastern boundary of Ward 10.
We know that many Torontonians who live in tall buildings and in neighbourhoods like ours do not have backyards of their own and count on our parks to enjoy the summer months. This program looks to bring Toronto inline with other cities around the world and across Canada, including Vancouver and Montreal, who have allowed for the safe personal consumption of alcohol in community parks.
The City is creating an inter-divisional working group that is overseeing its implementation and evaluation. I have spoken with the General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation about how this model will work in parks that have previously been known to have alcohol consumption, like Trinity-Bellwoods. Parks and Bylaw staff will be monitoring the park and ensuring any issues are dealt with quickly. I have also organized weekly check-ins with our Parks lead to take proactive measures to ensure the pilot is successful and all park users can enjoy the park in a safe and enjoyable manner.
While I support this pilot program, I do believe that the decision made by City Council on the design of the pilot program was flawed. Other jurisdictions have approached similar pilot programs on a city-wide basis, using the expertise of staff to determine the best options. At the May City Council meeting I put forward a motion to have a time-bound pilot in every part of the city with the best options presented by staff, not just at the discretion of individual Councillors, to determine what is the safest and most equitable path forward. While this item lost on a tie, I am determined to continue to push for a city-wide system that treats everyone fairly and equitably addresses concerns.
To learn about all the participating parks across the city, the guidelines for the pilot program, and information from public health, please check out the City's dedicated webpage.