With our new Public Space Incubator, we invite you to surprise us

February 27, 2018

Jake Tobin Garrett

Park People is excited to launch our Public Space Incubator—a program made possible through the generosity of Ken and Eti Greenberg and the Balsam Foundation.

With this program we hope to spark new, creative, and even radical ideas for inhabiting and enlivening our public spaces—whether those are in parks, plazas, schoolyards, tower green spaces, streets, laneways or any other publicly accessible open space—by offering up to $50,000 in funding for 5 projects in 2018 and again in 2019. For the full eligibility requirements and program details, check out the program website.

We’ve all had those public space experiences—whether in Toronto or travelling—stumbling across something that makes us smile and stay awhile. Maybe it was the musical swings in downtown Montreal. Or the thriving Thorncliffe Market in R. V. Burgess Park here in Toronto. Or maybe it was a laneway serving coffee and scones in San Francisco. These projects bring people together in new and unusual ways.

Park People is all about helping people activate the power of public spaces. We hope the Public Space Incubator provides the tools and resources for people with big ideas to do big things in our public spaces in Toronto.

As the name implies, we’ve designed the program with a supportive network built into it to help successful applicants realize their projects on the ground. These people include designers, city staff, community organizers, environmentalists, policy wonks, and more.

The program is designed to be broad enough to welcome a vast array of types of projects without being too prescriptive. However, we do have a set of core principles that each project must show how they achieve.


Public Space Incubator is not set up to fund “business as usual” projects. We’re interested in projects that push the boundaries of what’s possible, propose things that haven’t yet been tried, and create moments of delight and surprise. Think outside the box. Think collaboratively.


We’re looking for projects that are built from the ground-up in local communities—not something that is parachuted in from afar. Strong community partnerships and an inclusive and accessible approach is key to the success of these projects. What need is your project serving and how are you involving the local community?


Great design is key, but design alone cannot truly bring a space to life. We want to see projects that include a programmable aspect that shows intentional thought in how a space can be used and activated to bring in a diverse range of people. How is your project welcoming people to participate in the space?


Projects need to make sense within their local context, but we’re also looking for projects that test ideas that have the potential to be scaled up across the city in the future. What might this look like? What would need to happen?


While funding and support through the Public Space Incubator is a great start, we’re looking for projects that reach beyond the program to invite investment and partnerships with other organizations, funders, and groups. How does your project build in those partnerships to support growth and sustainability?

Be bold. Be creative. Surprise us.

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