The question: “What Happens When Parks are at the Heart of Neighbourhoods?” is the central focus of this year’s Park Summit. Hosted by Park, People, this year’s Summit will once again be Canada’s largest gathering of park leaders and champions, planning and design professionals and city builders. This free event will highlight innovative approaches and proven practices to address social, economic and environmental issues through the power of parks. It is held on March 5th at Daniel’s Spectrum in Toronto’s Regent Park. The Summit will be held from 1:00 to 5:30 You can register for the Park Summit here. This year’s Keynote speaker is David Escobar-Arango


Keynote Speaker: David Escobar-Arango

fotoelcassette (1)Once described as the murder capital of the world, a story told in the current Netflix series “Narcos”, Columbia’s second largest city, Medellin is now hailed as a “miracle of reinvention.” Much of that transformation is thanks to David Escobar-Arango, the city’s former Director of Planning, and his team. The City of Medellin has been transformed through the design and development of new parks, cultural centers, and educational opportunities. One such initiative – Library Parks (Parques Biblioteca) – is a series of public libraries set in city parks that offer educational tools and programs to benefit local communities, as well as providing a hub for further urban development and green projects. Strategically located in some of the city’s most disadvantaged communities, Medellin’s five library parks have become integral centers for social development that address an identified need for more cultural and educational space. Additional projects include theExplore Park of Science and Technology and Medellin Digital Botanical Garden. Critical to the success of these initiatives was working closely with community at all stages of these projects. David Escobar-Arango has worked as a public servant; executive in the ICT sector and since 2014 he is running an NGO that promotes entrepreneurship among low income communities in his country. He has lectured and consulted in Colombia and Latin America in fields such as:Urban Development, Project Management in the Public Sector, local economic development, entrepreneurship and ICTs / smart cities.  David holds a degree in Production Engineering from EAFIT University and Master in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.


In addition, this year we’ll feature three local park projects that highlight the incredible work that’s helping to realize the power of parks in Toronto.

Winter Stations

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Initiated during the winter of 2015, Winter Stations exhibition celebrates Toronto’s winter waterfront landscape. The exhibit converts lifeguard stations along Toronto’s eastern waterfront into temporary art installations. Lisa Rochon, Founder of Friends of the Beach Parks will talk about the success of Winter Stations and what can be learned from this innovative project.

For Youth Initiative

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For Youth Initiative’s Ki Bimaadiziwin means, “The Land is the Good Life,” in Anishnaabemowin-Ojibwe. This project involves an innovative partnership between For Youth Initiative and Naadmaagit Ki Group (NKG), with additional participation by the TRCA. The Weston Mount Dennis community will have an opportunity to learn about an aboriginal approach to stewardship by improving natural habitat at six sites along the Humber River. This innovative new model will promote long-term community engagement in the stewardship of nature.

The Green Line

The Green Line is an ambitious project with a vision to transform the hydro corridor that runs five kilometres from Earlscourt Park to Spadina Road into a connected linear park and trail. In 2012, Helena Grdadolnik from Workshop Architecture launched the Green Line Ideas Competition to call on architects, landscape architects, planners, artists and community members to reimagine the hydro corridor as a linear park. Helena, who now works in partnership with Park People on the project, will speak about her experience and highlight the latest developments on the Green Line.

Flemingdon Urban Fair:

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Flemingdon Urban Fair Committee is a group of women in Flemingdon Park who have come together to animate the green space in their community. Flemingdon Park is one of the largest high-rise communities in Toronto with over 22,000 inhabitants. It has been referred to as an “Arrival City” since new immigrants make up a large percentage of the community. The population, faces language, financial and cultural barriers which leads to isolation. FUFC has faced these challenges head on by using the parks as an important gathering space for everyone but especially women who may have fewer opportunities to build relationships outside of the home. Park events have been great community builders and have included clean ups, exercises, yoga, dances, multicultural festivals, nature walks and even a TIFF movie. The park has been key to FUFC’s vision of a strong and vibrant Flemingdon community.

Tickets for this FREE event go quickly, so be sure to register soon.
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