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Weston Family Parks Challenge Celebrates San Romanoway Revival Project

Project will transform lawns surrounding three apartment towers at Jane & Finch into vibrant community green space

The Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s San Romanoway Revival Project took a big step forward on October 17th, when MPP Mario Sergio, Councillors Maria Augimeri & Anthony Perruzza, and officials from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Park People celebrated the efforts to revitalize the grounds at San Romanoway. The project will transform lawns surrounding three apartment towers into vibrant community green space and serve as a model for similar tower communities. An orchard, vegetable gardens, and native plants and trees will increase biodiversity and connect the community to nature. In a densely populated neighborhood, a landscape skills training program and a small market will create income opportunities for residents. The results of this public, private, and non-profit partnership demonstrate how innovative solutions can be found to revitalize community green space.

With a commitment of $5 million over three years, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation launched the Weston Family Parks Challenge to ensure the long-term sustainability of Toronto’s parks. Building on the success of the first year, the Ontario Trillium Foundation joined in 2014 with an additional commitment of $1.125 million towards the initiative. Park People brings expertise and is administering the program.

View the projects funded to date >
Visit the Weston Family Parks Challenge website >

Park People Launches Ravine Nature Walk Leaders Program

Park People has been working with the Flemingdon Health Centre and the Birchmount Community Action Council to train women in Flemingdon Park and youth in Birchmount Eglinton East/Ionview to lead nature walks in their ravines.  The training will allow these two underserved communities to have more people explore the ravines, create a sense of safety in these green gems, build a love and appreciation for nature and raise the importance of ravines.

Made possible by the McCutcheon Foundation, the program included 24 nature walks in underserved communities in the first two years and will move forward with a training program in two communities, enabling them to lead their own nature walks.

The training for the program was done by Helen Mills of Lost Rivers & Toronto Green Community.

Toronto Star gets behind “brilliant” Green Line

In an editorial that called the Green Line a “brilliant proposal” the Toronto Star has thrown its support behind the project that would transform the Dupont hydro corridor between Earlscourt Park and the Annex into a connected linear park and trail. It’s “an idea whose time has come,” the Star said. We couldn’t agree more. To learn more about Park People’s work in partnership with Workshop Architecture on the Green Line and become a friend of the project, click here.

Green Line Wins Living City Foundation’s Regional Biodiversity Award

The Living City Awards are presented to organizations who exemplify the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s vision for The Living City.

In The Living City’s words: “In a city, ever challenged by the encroachment of grey infrastructure and vertical developments, green space comes at even more of a premium. That’s why the plan by Park People to convert an unused hydro corridor from Earlscourt Park to Spadina Road into usable, naturalized space is an innovative and forward thinking plan.”

We’re honoured to receive the award at The Living City Environmental Dinner on Wednesday, November 4th.

Read more about our Green Line project >
Follow our progress on Twitter >

City takes positive step with no-fee art and music in park permits.

We’re hugely supportive of the proposed no-fee art and music in park permits approved by the Parks and Environment Committee earlier in October. These new categories are a recognition of the importance of local programming in our parks and the benefit they bring to our communities—a direction we have long advocated for at Park People. By making these permits free and easy to obtain, the City helps local artists and musicians reach new audiences and animate parks throughout the city. Read our letter to committee here. City Council will vote on the new permit categories in November.

TD Park Builders Works With 13 Groups This Fall

There has been a flurry of fall activities across Toronto parks through TD Park Builder’s. This Park People program encourages community engagement and animation of vital community green space in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and underserved communities. The program supports new Friends of City Parks groups as well as providing micro-grants to get these new groups off their feet. 2015 is the second year of this innovative program, which will continue in 2016. Below is a list of the fall accomplishments of the TD Park Builders’ Program:

  1. Rexdale Women’s Centre picnic in Rowntree Mills Park with over 100 seniors
  2. York Hispanic Seniors Community Garden Harvest Festival (Sept 18)
  3. CLAP (Culture and Live Arts in Parks) in West Lodge Park in Parkdale
  4. Harvest Festival at Lotherton Community Garden
  5. Launch of park initiatives at Parkway Forest Park with the Fairview Residents Action Group (FRAG)
  6. Back to School Swap with Friends of Oakridge Park
  7. TIFF in Your Park and Pumpkin competition at Scarborough Village Park
  8. Harvest Festival at Neilson Park
  9. Garden workshop at Mornelle
  10. Back to School Event with We Are for Women
  11. Firgrove Harvest Festival and ‘Putting Your Garden To Bed Workshop’
  12. Delta hosts Yoga in Rowntree Park with Seniors
  13. Fall Farming with Toronto Black Farmers and Growers Collective

TIFF In Your Park Concludes 10 Park Movie Nights & Community Games Festivals

Events were hosted in 10 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas across the City.

This summer Park People and TIFF (home of the Toronto International Film Festival) piloted TIFF in Your Park, a festival series celebrating TIFF’s 40th anniversary, in collaboration with ten community groups across Toronto which brought movie nights to parks via Community Games Festivals. Each Festival consisted of a variety activities promoting healthy and active living as well as showcasing current park programming initiatives within each community. The summer long event series brought out over 3000 attendees to enjoy movies under the stars. David Carey of TIFF noted the importance of teaming up with local partners for this project: “like Park People, we think that when communities get involved, parks get better. There’s something very special about watching a film outdoors; sharing a communal cinematic experience with your neighbours. In addition to acting as meeting places and recreation hubs, Toronto’s parks and green spaces make for pretty great cinemas too”.

Read more about the TIFF in Your Park & Community Games Festival >

Pumpkin Parades Coming to You this Weekend

This born-in-Toronto tradition takes place across the city and around the world

On Sunday at sunset, thousands of jack-o-lanterns get a second life when they get taken to their local park to be put on display in a community event born in Sorauren Park, spread across dozens of Toronto’s parks, and taking place around the world. This year, 29 parks will participate, with the help of Friends of City Park groups and City Councillors across Toronto.

See a  map from Toronto Parks Forestry & Recreation >
Find a pumpkin parade on our #parkTO event calendar >

See the Salmon Run Brings Over 1100 People to Watch Salmon Swim Upstream

On October 18th, over 1100 people came from across the city to watch the annual salmon run up Toronto’s creeks. This annual walking tour, which follows a 2km loop adjacent to the Highland Creek, takes onlookers to a series of lookout points where they can hear from ecology experts, fish biologists, water and habitat professionals, and other groups that have a role to play in ensuring clean and unrestricted watersheds for salmon to swim upstream. Park People has partnered with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority for four years to bring this event to the heart of Scarborough in the Highland Creek. The interest of Torontonians to learn about this phenomenon is obvious, as attendance at this event has doubled every year. Park People’s participation was made possible by the Schad Foundation.

Birdwatching Platform Opened at Sam Smith Park

Officials gathered on October 24th for a ribbon cutting at the newly constructed wetland lookout at Colonel Sam Smith Park. With support from the Weston Family Parks Challenge, Humber Arboretum’s Colonel Sam Smith Park Improvements will bring together diverse partners such as the City of Toronto, Friends of Sam Smith Park, and Citizens Concerned About the Etobicoke Waterfront to improve wetland habitat and create a new outdoor classroom. Environmental programs and stewardship opportunities will connect youth and community members to nature by raising awareness of the importance of providing and maintaining natural areas for birds and other wildlife. Public, private and non-profit partnerships will ensure the long-term sustainability of the project, enhancing one of Toronto’s most popular birding destinations for future generations.


Created with support from Live Green Toronto, a program of the City of Toronto.