From Toronto the Good to Toronto, a Good Time

Mo­bile beer trucks could be coming to an arena park­ing lot near you

Bayview Post - - News -

Some 50 years ago, when my par­ents started dat­ing and they wanted a drink, they would go to the Brunswick House. Even though the Brunswick was one of the es­tab­lished bars of the day, un­less a cou­ple was mar­ried, each had to en­ter and exit through the door marked by their gen­der. The men had a door and the women had a door. Pre­sum­ably no one was sup­posed to have too much to drink while on a date at the bar.

When I started dat­ing and wanted to go for a drink, I didn’t have to go through a sep­a­rate door at the bar, but if I wanted to pur­chase a bot­tle of wine it was quite a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence than it is to­day.

The liquor store was a dreary place where wine and spir­its were kept be­hind an im­pos­ing and un­friendly counter. Each bot­tle had a num­ber, and in or­der to buy some­thing, one was re­quired to fill out a slip with the num­ber and hand it to a clerk. If you didn’t know the num­ber, the clerk wouldn’t get the prod­uct.

The city earned the moniker Toronto the Good largely due to the fact it was a re­ally bor­ing place to visit and live. Times have cer­tainly changed. Since cannabis be­came le­gal in Canada, it has not been sub­ject to the same re­stric­tions as al­co­hol. Soon peo­ple in the city will be able to smoke it in parks and in many pub­lic spa­ces, but at the same time that our laws are be­com­ing very lib­eral for cannabis, the re­stric­tions on how al­co­hol can be pur­chased and con­sumed re­main an­ti­quated.

More change may soon be on the hori­zon.

For­mer Toronto coun­cil­lor Mary Mar­garet McMa­hon moved a mo­tion prior to her re­tire­ment from Toronto City Coun­cil that the city should study the fea­si­bil­ity of trav­el­ling craft beer trucks be­ing able to serve beer at city parks and are­nas. Al­though it is hard to pic­ture a craft beer truck next to the ice cream truck at Eglin­ton Park, I am sure it would be a wel­come sight for many par­ents who are du­ti­fully watch­ing their chil­dren play soc­cer in the scorch­ing hot sun.

The gen­e­sis of the idea, of course, is not to con­done or en­cour­age the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol. The pol­icy frame­work be­hind the ini­tia­tive is to give smaller, lo­cal entrepreneurs the op­por­tu­nity to reach cus­tomers di­rectly. The idea be­gan in Philadel­phia, and the ini­tia­tive there is called Parks on Tap.

The plan en­vi­sions trucks serv­ing craft beer at parks and are­nas so that both hockey and soc­cer par­ents can ben­e­fit. If suc­cess­ful, the trucks would also park along­side food trucks at fes­ti­vals and com­mu­nity gath­er­ings. Not only do peo­ple have more choices, the lo­cal craft brew­ers have ac­cess to a mar­ket that was pre­vi­ously un­avail­able to them.

Of course, there are still many is­sues to work out re­gard­ing li­cens­ing.

The first time the city tried to license food trucks, it was a colos­sal fail­ure. Hope­fully those lessons have been learned and the city won’t cre­ate an ad­min­is­tra­tive night­mare for up­start entrepreneurs. With any luck, this ini­tia­tive could re­sult in the re­peal of the $360 fine for il­le­gally drink­ing in a pub­lic park.

Fairly soon, the city will fig­ure out how to sell the weed, de­liver beer on wheels and al­low peo­ple to legally have a pic­nic with a bot­tle of wine.

Once that hap­pens, coun­cil may have to grap­ple with a new nick­name for our town: in­stead of Toronto the Good, it could be Toronto, a Good Time.

Sim­i­lar pro­grams have be­gun in other cities in­clud­ing Philadel­phia

KAREN STINTZ Karen Stintz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

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