From August 2, 2023 to April 19, 2024, people aged 19 years and older can bring and drink their own alcoholic beverages to 27 select City parks. There are more than 1,500 parks across the city.

All park events where alcohol will be sold or served to the public still require a City of Toronto Special Event permit and a permit/license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

This pilot focuses on reducing restrictions on responsible drinking in parks.

  • Drink only within the pilot parks and between park hours (5:30 a.m. to midnight)
  • Dispose of empties in a park recycling bin or take them home with you.
  • Be respectful and do not disturb other park users
  • Must be legal drinking age of 19 years
  • Do not supply or serve alcohol to people under the legal drinking age of 19 years

Alcohol may not be consumed within two metres of playgrounds, outdoor rinks or skateboard parks.

Public intoxication and disruptive behaviour including public urination are not allowed.

Background

  • Pilot program evaluation results will be reported to City Council in Q1 2024.
  • November 2023: Restrictions were extended for use in winter.
  • October 2023: City Council voted to extend the pilot program from October 9, 2023, to March 31, 2024.
  • July 2023: City Council endorses the pilot program to occur in 27 parks confirmed in consultations with local Councillors.
  • May 2023: City Council voted in support a pilot program allowing drinking in some City parks this summer and fall and to consult with interested councillors on hosting a pilot park in their ward.
  • May 2022: Council voted for City Staff to report back to the Economic and Community Development Committee in the second quarter of 2023 with options and necessary by-law amendments to allow drinking in City parks.
  • As part of its 2019 Budget, the Province of Ontario announced amendments to the Liquor Licence and Control Act to permit municipal Councils to change bylaws to designate public places, including parks, for personal alcohol consumption.

Guiding Principles

Guiding principles have been established to inform each aspect of the park selection criteria:

  • Public health and safety
  • Positive park experience for everyone
  • Clean and well-maintained parks
  • Access
  • Simple rules and clear communication

Park Selection Criteria

Parks were selected based on a number of criteria in alignment with the guiding principles. Criteria includes:

  • Washroom access; temporary or permanent
  • Park size; larger than 1.5 hectares
  • No adjoining school
  • Not situated on the waterfront
  • Drinking water access
  • High visibility and accessible by first responders
  • Public transportation access
  • Minimal impact to natural and programmable areas
  • Population density; proximity to multi-unit homes

All parks included in the pilot program were confirmed by the local councillor.

Municipal Code and Provincial Legislation

  • Consuming alcohol in public spaces is governed by both the Provincial legislation and City of Toronto Municipal Code.
  • The Ontario Liquor Licence and Control Act governs where alcohol can be sold, served and consumed. In 2019, the Liquor Licence and Control Act (by section 41(1)(d) was amended to give municipal councils the opportunity to change their bylaws to designate a public place, including parks, for personal alcohol consumption.
  • The City of Toronto Municipal Code § 608-8 (Parks: Liquor) governs alcohol consumption in parks, and mirrors language used in the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019. Specifically, the bylaw prohibits possessing open liquor in a Toronto park without a permit; and providing, and consuming, selling or serving liquor in a park without a permit.

Enforcement

  • Bylaw enforcement officers will visit pilot and non-pilot parks regularly. They do not have a stationary presence in City parks.
  • For both pilot and non-pilot parks, bylaw enforcement officers will be taking an education-first approach to enhance awareness of City bylaws.

Waste

  • Beverage container recycling bins have been installed in pilot parks.
  • Waste bins in the pilot parks will be collected based on their regular service levels, which vary by park type.
  • Collection in the larger high-traffic pilot parks will take place in the early mornings to ensure the safety of park users.
  • The public is encouraged to report any overflowing bins to 311 to be addressed.

Alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance in Canada. Most adults drink alcohol in moderation and for them, alcohol is not a problem. However, for some people, alcohol can present harm to themselves or others including injuries and chronic diseases.

Find a list of safe drinking tips and harm-reduction resources.