Pubdate: Mon, 11 Sep 2017
Source: Metro (Toronto, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Matt Elliott
Page: 3


On a Saturday in June, I drank a beer on Queen Street West.

It was one of the first scorcher days of the summer. The sidewalks
were packed. The sun was unrelenting. And then, as if by magic, my
girlfriend and I came across a couple of beer company reps handing out
sample cans of a new radler.

Not my favourite kind of booze, but the day was hot and the beer cold.
We drank with dozens of other people on the sidewalk. It was one of
those perfect summer moments. It was also totally illegal. Such is
usually the case with drinking alcohol in public in this town.
Provincial and city rules turn people who are just enjoying a drink
into scofflaws. Whenever you crack open a tall boy on a Toronto Island
beach or pour a glass of sangria at a Trinity Bellwoods picnic, you're
risking a fine.

It's a situation that's out-of-step with the drinking laws in other
cities like London and Berlin - cities where drinking in public is
generally permitted, so long as you're not causing a ruckus.

That's a more sensible way to handle things.

So I'm glad to see changes might finally be brewing. City hall's parks
committee voted to commission a report on allowing beer trucks in city
parks, using Philadelphia's successful "parks on tap" program as a
model. The report will come back to committee in January.

I hope the program is implemented quickly. But I also have an even
greater hope: that it spurs both the municipal and provincial
governments to look at loosening up alcohol laws governing where
Lighten up, Francis Parks on Tap has been bringing craft brews to city
green spaces since 2016 in Philadelphia, Pa. It's the basis for a
program being pitched for Toronto parks. and when people can enjoy a

Without that, it's likely that the beer-truck-in-parks program could
follow a typical Toronto pattern, where a combination of stubborn
provincial law and city hall's tendency to overthink things leads to
onerous requirements for things like elaborate fencing, expensive
permits, added security and who knows what else.

A better solution might start by letting a simple twoword phrase guide
policy development: Chill out.

Liberalizing alcohol rules will not cause chaos. Primarily, all it
would do is legalize behaviour that's already widespread - at Friday's
meeting, Coun. Mike Layton acknowledged that Trinity Bellwoods is a
"de facto open beer garden" - while also creating more opportunities
for craft brewers and other businesses.

There's nothing unique about Torontonians' approach to drinking that
means the same loose rules that work in other cities cannot work here.
If issues do crop up, they can be dealt with through further local
reforms. Chill out. That same approach could have helped with the
province's foray into marijuana legalization. The plan announced
Friday to establish separate LCBO-style retail stores to sell cannabis
smells strongly of overregulation, and decisions about store locations
will almost certainly lead to further talk of restrictions through

This tendency for governments to attempt to anticipate every single
problem - real or imagined - on issues like booze and pot is the kind
of thing that needlessly makes people into lawbreakers.

It's also the kind of thing that takes a perfect summer moment and
makes it illegal.
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MAP posted-by: Matt