Help us define our 2018 Parks Platform

July 18, 2018

Jake Tobin Garrett

It’s hard to believe, but another Toronto municipal election is fast approaching.

This October people will be heading to the polls to mark an X next to who they want to be their local councillor and mayor. There are lots of issues at play–affordable housing, transit, and safer streets to name a few–but we wanted to ensure that parks and public spaces were part of the conversation. And to help that, we will release a Parks Platform in early September that will highlight the key issues and policy ideas to make our parks even better.

We’d love your help! Please take 5 minutes to fill out this survey and let us know what’s important to you.

Some of you may recall we did this back in 2014 for the municipal election (you can find our previous platform here). We asked candidates to steal our ideas—generated through community feedback and our own work—and were pleased to see many of them pop up in the campaigns of local councillor candidates and mayoral candidates like Olivia Chow and John Tory (you can view Tory’s platform here to compare–we saved it!)

We wanted to take a look back at our previous platform to see how Toronto did over the last four years. Here’s some highlights:

We advocated for removing park permit and insurance fees for local community groups putting on free, open events for their community.

In the last four years, new free permit categories have been created for things like movies, arts, and music in parks, making it easier and cheaper to put on these types of activities. We still think there is room for improvement here, but we’ve seen good progress.

We pushed for the completion of a citywide parks acquisition strategy to ensure our parks are keeping up with our growing population, and a downtown specific plan focused on this area of hyper-growth.

The TOcore parks and public realm plan was approved by City Council this year and the City is deep into its citywide Parkland Strategy that will set out priorities and strategies for acquisition. Next up: actually implementing these plans…

We advocated for new linear park and greenway projects that take advantage of our hydro and rail corridors to create a network of public spaces.

The City is finalizing the Green Line master plan to create a 5km linear park and trail through the Dupont hydro corridor and plans were just announced by the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for the Meadoway—a 16km linear park and trail through the Gatineau hydro corridor in Scarborough.

We advocated for new partnerships and governance models for parks, including exploring the opportunity of park conservancies.

The last four years have seen the development of new and more formalized governance models and community partnerships in parks, including the Friends of Allan Gardens, the Toronto Botanical Gardens in Edwards Gardens Park, and the creation of Toronto’s first park conservancy with The Bentway.

We advocated for stationed park managers in some of our most used parks and more of a focus on maintenance.

The freshly redesigned Grange Park has a stationed park manager, but that is not the norm for signature and well-used parks, which are looked after by park supervisors whose areas often cover two wards. This is something we continue to advocate for. We did see a bit of a bump in funding for maintenance during high-use times, but our parks operating budget continues to be strained by pressures to maintain parks in a growing city.

All in all, it was good to see a lot of improvement in the areas that we highlighted in 2014–but we know there is more to do and new pressures and ideas as we go into 2018. Make sure you fill out our Parks Platform 2018 survey to share your ideas with us before August 1, 2018.

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