After 33 years, Toronto Police headquarters to close its in-house bar

The Toronto Police Service (TPS) has made the decision to permanently shut down the licensed and fully-stocked bar, located inside its downtown headquarters.

After being in operation for over three decades, the closure of the bar, which had been reserved exclusively for senior officers since its establishment in 1989, follows a potential link to an incident involving an officer who visited the establishment mere hours before being charged with impaired driving.

A memo was circulated to both civilian and uniformed senior officers, notifying them that Police Chief Myron Demkiw’s office had made the decision not to renew the bar’s license.

“The licence was used infrequency, and largely for formal functions, like retirements or when hosting dignitaries.,” TPS spokesperson Stephanie Sayer said in a statement. “Moving forward, the Service will apply for a Special Occasions Permit from the AGCO should we decide to host an event where alcohol may be served.” He was charged with impaired driving in January 2022.

Toronto police Supt. Riyaz Hussein/22 Division Toronto Police Service/Facebook
According to a report by CBC News, back in April an adjudicator in a tribunal reached a verdict stating that TPS superintendent Riyaz Hussein entered the lounge about three hours before crashing his SUV, which was registered to the TPS, into another vehicle traveling in the same direction along Highway 401 in Pickering, Ontario. 

Hussein plead guilty in October to driving with a blood alcohol level over 80 mg per 100 ml of blood. As a penalty he received a 12-month driving prohibition and a demotion in rank from superintendent to inspector for 12 months. He also relied a $1200 fine and a victim surcharge of $360.

In a report, John Sewell, coordinator of the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition, said he was surprised about the bar.

“I’m absolutely astounded they’ve got a bar in this government building,” he said. “This is a public service. I’m not aware of any other public service that has a bar in it — and yet the police do.”

According to CTV News Toronto, the College Street bar is not the only police bar in Ontario. The RCMP’s headquarters in Ottawa has had once since 2011 and the Mountie Building in London has had a bar since 1992.