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Since March, when coronavirus shutdowns closed restaurants across the province, parks and beaches have offered a place of respite for weary city-dwellers eager to escape the confines of dining at home. Though there’s nothing wrong with a picnic, city officials are reminding residents that public consumption of alcohol can carry a hefty fine.
“Leave the beer, wine and spirits at home if you’re planning a trip to a beach or park,” read a recent post on the City of Toronto Twitter page.
Though consumption of alcohol in public spaces has always been illegal in Toronto, last month Mayor John Tory acknowledged that enforcement of the law was on the back burner as officials dealt with more pressing issues. “I don't have a personal objection to people who engage in this type of activity in moderation,” said Tory, in response to people eager to see more lenient rules in Toronto. He added “if people can continue to behave in a responsible and rational manner then … we’ll take a look at the regulations when time permits.”
Yet in recent days, perhaps in response to the swarming party scene taking over parks across town, the city has changed its tune. A recent City of Toronto news release informs residents that additional signage about alcohol consumption has been created and that bylaw officers and Toronto police will again be issuing tickets related to drinking in public. Currently, fines of up to $300 can be issued for possession of alcohol in a park without a permit, supplying alcohol in a park to someone who is underage and for consuming, selling or serving alcohol in a park without a permit.
Until laws change, that boozy beach brunch may not be such a good idea. You’re better off heading to a patio or, like you did in March, enjoying a tipple at home.