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Torontonians that consume alcohol in parks 'not a priority' for enforcement officers

Last Updated May 7, 2021 at 4:51 pm EDT

Bicycle police officers keep an eye on Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto on Sunday, May 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Openly drinking booze in Toronto parks is against the law but city officials served notice that enforcement officers will likely look the other way.

In a statement, the City says its enforcement team is focused on mitigating issues that pose the greatest risk to public health and safety, including large events in parks and on private property, and big parties indoors including in short-term rentals and closed restaurants and bars.

“Only 69 tickets were issued for alcohol across the City’s 1,500 parks last year,” they said Friday.

“Individuals consuming an alcoholic beverage in a park with their household are not a priority for enforcement.”

So if you’re having an alcoholic beverage in a park with people you live with, the city says you’re not a prime concern for officers.

“We continue to respond daily to calls from the public reporting large gatherings” said Toronto Police Chief James Ramer. “We are enforcing and will lay charges against those who are contravening the provincial order. Please respect the order, stay home and stay safe.”

In the last week alone, police attended 296 incidents and issued 338 tickets as well as 16 criminal charges.

In just one incident, 14 people attending a house party in the area of Bloor and Dundas streets were charged after officers were called about reports of a noisy party.

Toronto police have issued more than 570 tickets and charges across the city since the enforcement teams were introduced on April 22 with most of the calls for service coming from the downtown core.

In April, 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.

The committee voted to refer the motion to parks and licensing staff, killing the proposal.

Matlow 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.”