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Parks on Tap: Toronto city hall looks at beer trucks in parks

Philadelphia has implemented the program, which brings a craft beer truck to a different park each week throughout the summer.

Parks on Tap has been bringing beer to green spaces in Philadelphia, Pa., since last year.

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@PhiladelphiaGov/Twitter / Metro Web Upload

Parks on Tap has been bringing beer to green spaces in Philadelphia, Pa., since last year.

The chair of the city's parks committee wants to see Torontonians buying and drinking beer in our green spaces.

Mary-Margaret McMahon learned about Philadelphia's popular Parks on Tap program at a recent conference in Minneapolis. She has put forward a motion on Friday's parks committee agenda asking city staff to study how the idea would work in Toronto.

"I think it's an exciting opportunity," she told Metro. "People are drinking in parks anyway."

Philadelphia's program brings a craft beer truck to a different park each week throughout the summer. The truck effectively turns part of the park into a beer garden. Proceeds go to support local park initiatives. The program saw 30,000 patrons turn out to 14 Philadelphia parks for its inaugural year in 2016. It was expanded for 2017, and early indications are that attendance has grown.

"It's been extremely popular," said Elizabeth Moselle, associate director of business development for Fairmount Park Conservancy, which helps run the program.

Moselle explains that Parks on Tap gives people a reason to explore new parts of the city and to think about creative uses for public spaces.

While Ontario has strict regulations on the distribution and consumption of alcohol, the city has tried to promote its flourishing craft beer scene in recent years. Council passed a motion in 2015 to look at establishing Toronto as the "craft beer capital of the world."

Local beer columnist Robin LeBlanc, co-author of the Ontario Craft Beer Guide, is "cautiously optimistic" about the beer truck proposal and believes it would be a great way to promote local brewers. But based on the city's recent history, she has her concerns, too.

"We have a reputation for not going through with these amazing ideas," she said. But LeBlanc is happy the city is at least talking about creative ideas.

"Even if it loses, that idea is out there."

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