Dear Urban Diplomat: The public drinking pilot program has turned my husband into a park nark

Dear Urban Diplomat: The public drinking pilot program has turned my husband into a park nark

He stands by the window noting bylaw infractions and says he’s going to write our city councillor. How can I get him to settle down?

An illustration of a man surveilling people drinking in a nearby park from his home

Dear Urban Diplomat,
We live near a park that’s part of the pilot project for legalized drinking. Usually, my husband is a relaxed guy, but lately he’s become that creep peeking from behind the curtain. He notes every time there’s any noise in the park and says he’s going to send a list of complaints to our city councillor. I swear he knows the date and time of every can that’s been cracked within a block of our domicile. Should I be worried?
—Drinking Games, Greenwood-Coxwell

Toronto has historically seen public drinking as a vice, and it sounds like your husband has some of that puritanical blood coursing through his veins. If he witnesses any serious depravity—public urination, open-air nooky—he can indeed call 311. But, otherwise, encourage him to relax about it. People in other countries drink wine on grass without society devolving into The Purge. More to the point: it will be hard for the city to put the cork back in this bottle of newfound freedom. Your husband needs to process these facts—if only for his own mental health.

Related: Councillor James Pasternak on his opposition to the Alcohol in Parks Pilot Program


Dear Urban Diplomat,
I love my sister, but she lives life like it’s one long bachelorette party. She’s always short on cash, so I give her money for things like summer camp for my nephew and niece. The other day, I found out that she’s been going to that massive new casino at Woodbine. I refuse to be her personal ATM. Should I demand my money back?
—Child Support, Leaside

You can give her cash or decline to, but you don’t have the right to dictate how she spends it. Yes, gambling can be reckless in a way that, say, a thrice-a-day latte habit is not, but both compulsions are wastes of money. If you want to ensure that none of yours ends up at the roulette table, try buying things for your nephew and niece directly. Or you can accept that families are messy and work best when everyone cuts one another some slack.


More Urban Diplomat

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I commute daily on the 401, and I’m seeing the following behaviour more and more: when traffic comes to a standstill, drivers will exit into the merge lane, zoom up to the front and then re-enter the flow of traffic multiple cars ahead. I saw a school bus do it the other day, which blew my mind. Maybe such jackassery doesn’t technically violate a traffic law, but it’s wrong and infuriating, right? Is there anything I can do about it?
—Road Warrior, York Mills

Plowing through Toronto at rush hour is an ungodly sport, so, yes, drivers are looking to get any edge—especially as congestion returns to pre-pandemic levels—but that doesn’t make it okay. While the Ontario Driver’s Handbook doesn’t prohibit marauding into the merge lane, this is a dangerous form of queue-jumping. Unfortunately, beyond trying to melt offenders’ tires with the white-hot glare of your eye, there’s not much you can do to stop this behaviour. Instead, take pride in not abandoning the moral high ground yourself simply to shave 30 seconds off your commute.


Dear Urban Diplomat,
As a young guy who flies solo for work, I’m a prime target for families looking to swap seats so they can all sit together. Usually, I politely decline, but this past summer, people started getting pushier. On a recent return flight to Pearson, a dad demanded that I trade my aisle seat for a middle one a few rows away so he could sit with his teenage kids. When I said no, he made such a fuss that the crew ended up moving two other people. I still feel guilty. Am I the problem, or are the seat switchers out of line?
—Flight Risk, Willowdale

Allowances for families can be justified—especially when there are young kids involved. But, in most cases, parents are trying to turn their poor planning into your problem. Don’t feel bad for that. No one should expect their preferences to trump all others. Those teens would’ve been perfectly fine watching an in-flight flick for a few hours without their dad. Going forward, have the confidence to stand (or, rather, sit) your ground.


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