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No legal booze in Ottawa’s parks in 2024, staff recommend

Residents and tourists should not be allowed to enjoy an alcoholic drink in Ottawa’s parks this summer, according to city of Ottawa staff.

In response to an inquiry from Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard, staff recommend the city of Ottawa not launch a pilot project allowing alcohol consumption in Ottawa parks this summer, while staff continue with the review of the Parks and Facilities Bylaw.

Menard asked city staff whether the city of Ottawa is considering following the city of Toronto in conducting a pilot project to allow alcohol drinking in select parks this summer. Menard asked if they are considering an alcohol in parks pilot project as part of the Parks and Facilities Bylaw review.

Toronto launched a pilot program for alcohol in parks last August, allowing for alcohol to be consumed in parks with certain parameters, including access to washrooms, public transit, drinking water and is not near a school.

The pilot project allowed people aged 19 and older to drink alcohol beverages in 27 public parks. The vast majority of residents who drank in parks said they were satisfied with the project, according to a city report.

Staff in Toronto are recommending the pilot project allowing consumption in select public parks be made permanent.

In response to Menard, Ottawa’s general manager of Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Dan Chenier says alcohol in parks will be a key theme in the public engagement efforts for the Parks and Facilities Bylaw review.

“Given the impending resumption of seasonal activities in parks within the next month, staff recommend that the City not initiate pilot sites in 2024 while continuing with the planned Bylaw renewal process in which all legal, enforcement and operational considerations for a pilot project will be evaluated and further developed,” Chenier said in a response, which was posted to social media by Menard.

“Should alcohol in parks be approved as an addition to the Parks and Facilities Bylaw in early 2025, staff would initiate projects in accordance with the parameters approved by City Council as part of the Bylaw.”

Chenier says alcohol in parks is an “area of interest” in the bylaw review.

“Staff’s initial review of pilot projects in other municipalities indicates that implementing a pilot project for alcohol in parks requires a thorough evaluation of safety considerations to establish a selection criteria for pilot projects, input from the general public, consultations with communities in proximity to pilot sites, development of site rules, signage and alignment with corporate strategies and regulations,” Chenier wrote.

Menard said on social media he would like to see the city of Ottawa conduct a pilot project on alcohol consumption in parks.

The review of Ottawa’s Parks and Facilities Bylaw will be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2025.

With files from The Canadian Press

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