WARMINGTON: Let responsible drinkers raise a glass in Toronto’s parks

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People can legally smoke pot in a city park, or in some cases, camp out for weeks.

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Why can’t law-abiding people crack open a bottle of wine with a picnic lunch, or enjoy a beer or cooler with friends?

It’s a question Councillor Josh Matlow has put before city council.

“Toronto city council to consider lifting drinking ban in parks once again,” the Toronto-St. Paul’s councillor tweeted Tuesday.

It has sparked debate.

On his web page, Matlow argued, “over the pandemic, Torontonians have embraced outdoor areas for socializing more than ever.” He added, “council has recognized the importance of being able to enjoy a drink outside by loosening restrictions on patios with the successful CafeTO program, which will be brought back for a third year.”

Is it time to loosen things up and give this a try in neighbourhood parks?

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I am starting to warm up to the idea. Why not give it a try and see how it goes on a test basis? Maybe it’s something that will help people actually take back the parks from the drug pushers?

Matlow has proposed a trial with a view to making it permanent as long as park drinking doesn’t cause problems.

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Public drunkenness, underage drinking, violence and public safety are the kinds of things city officials worry about. But those are problems already present in bar districts or public entertainment venues.

People who live in condos now head out to the park with a bottle of wine, but have to worry about receiving a ticket for a bylaw infraction, while watching people freely smoking up or indulging in illegal activities such as injecting drugs.

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At a time when inflation is making day-to-day life so expensive, perhaps it’s time to let people head to the park and enjoy a drink.

Not everybody can afford to go to a major league sports game or out for dinner. This could also provide an opportunity for local restaurants to make some additional sales of beer and wine if they are allowed to be part of it.

This seems to be a time, after all, when a lot of other things once considered illegal are now profited from. There’s a marijuana shop on every corner, and you can’t watch any sporting event without seeing ads encouraging people to lay down a legal bet.

As long as people are responsible — and it’s not happening near kids’ playgrounds — it should work out fine.

But there are lots of ways of looking at this, and all ideas should be considered.

My feeling is the city should give the green light to Matlow’s proposal and make a decision based on how the trial goes.

If wine drinkers can’t beat the druggies, maybe it’s time to join them in the park!

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