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Motion denied that would have allowed for alcohol consumption in Toronto parks, beaches

Last Updated Apr 27, 2021 at 1:16 pm EDT

A man sips his beer while sitting in environmentally friendly physical distancing circles at Trinity Bellwoods Park during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Thursday, May 28, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Pinot in the park. Beers on the beach. It’s not going to happen as there will be no legal drinking of booze in city-run parks and beaches this summer.

Councillor Josh Matlow brought forward a motion asking the Economic and Community Development Committee to consider implementing a pilot project to allow people to consume some alcohol while at a park or the beach, but the committee voted to refer the motion to parks and licensing staff, essentially killing the proposal.

Matlow argued the change would give Torontonians equitable access to outdoor space and allow all residents to enjoy a drink outdoors since not everyone has a backyard.

The councillor responded to the decision, saying the committee referred the motion off to staff “with zero timelines for it coming back.”

“During this pandemic summer, the very time when we don’t want people congregating indoors, placing unreasonable restrictions on the use of our parks is cowardly, dangerous, inequitable, and wrong.”

The pilot would have run from May 21st, just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend, until Halloween. The alcohol content of the drinks would have been required to be capped at 15 percent and drinking hours limited from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.

Matlow said heading into the second summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is up to the city to create environments where social connections with friends and family can be made in the safest way possible way.

He says many residents don’t have outdoor spaces and should not be left with unsafe options such as gathering indoors or, like many over the past year, choosing to drink illegally in parks.


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For the second year in a row, the City of Toronto will be installing social distancing circles at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

The circles were first introduced last summer as a means to encourage physical distancing for parkgoers.

City crews began installation this week.

This comes as one deputy mayor calls for Doug Ford to reconsider and subsequently reverse the shuttering of golf courses and other outdoor amenities.

In a letter issued to Ford, Councillor Stephen Holyday says he supports the reopening of these outdoor services, including golf courses and tennis courts, when it is safe to do so.

“Outdoor activities are healthy, and are lower risk for the spread of COVID19,” said Holyday.

“… Not all sports have the same risks and some, such as golf and tennis, allow for independent play and safe spatial separation outdoors. For this reason, there may be an opportunity to gradually open up certain outdoor recreational activities while maintaining controls in place where they are needed.”