Trinity Bellwoods park users debate outdoor drinking

A public meeting was held Thursday to discuss the issue of public drinking in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Online petition urges laws to be relaxed

Is it okay to crack a cold one or sip some wine at Trinity Bellwoods Park, or should police continue to crack down on drinking alcohol in the popular west-end park?

Those questions were the topic of discussion last night at a public meeting to address the issue. On one side are neighbours and park users who say drinkers create noise, leave garbage and aren’t too discrete about where they relieve themselves.

"When they want to go to the washroom, they go to the trees. Last week, they go against my house in my driveway," resident Maria Anceriz told CBC News.

Others who spoke at the meeting — which was packed — say the bylaw should be relaxed to allow responsible drinkers to enjoy a beverage in the park without fear of getting a $125 fine.

"A moderate amount of alcohol consumption should be tolerated in the park," said local resident John Davidson. "A lot of us don’t have backyards and we want to be able to have a bottle of wine or a couple of beers while we sit there on a Sunday or Saturday afternoon and we don’t want to be harassed."

Some at the meeting suggested that a line of trees be planted along the park’s perimeter to contain the noise. Others want the police to ticket for littering and public urination, but go easy on enforcing open liquor violations.

In the last two months, police have handed out 105 tickets and made five arrests for drinking in the park.

One softball player at the park told CBC News his team usually has beer after the game, but opted to leave it at home last night in light of this week's news.

For those who feel police have been too heavy-handed, an online petition urging for more relaxed enforcement has been posted.

The petition argues that open liquor laws are not needed because existing rules already outlaw underage drinking, public urination and littering. As of 6:30 a.m. Friday, more than 2,300 people had signed the petition.