Building Solutions

Putting People at the Centre of Parks and Public Spaces

We’re the experts at developing and implementing solutions to city park challenges

We know that public spaces and park systems thrive when community partners work together. Park People is uniquely positioned to build people and communities into the heart of parks.

We provide research, planning, partnership development and community engagement services that put our core principle—when communities get involved, parks get better—into action. From helping you connect residents to their parks, to establishing strong public, private and non-profit partnerships, to creatively thinking about bringing non-traditional public spaces to life, we work to create and sustain parks that help cities thrive. Park People’s knowledge, networks and on-the-ground expertise have resulted in actionable park solutions that transform parks into the hearts of communities.

Community Engagement

  • Facilitating community engagement into for every stage of park and public space planning, design and programming
  • Designing programs that foster ongoing community stewardship of parks and public spaces

Partnerships

  • Philanthropic and private contribution management for contributions to parks and public spaces
  • Creating agreements for managing park operations, maintenance and programming
  • Manage government relations and public-private collaboration
  • Building partnerships that maximize community development goals in underserved communities

Research

  • Reports highlighting best practices and design principles to derive practical solutions for parks and public spaces
  • Measuring how communities use public spaces to inform park and public space planning, design and programming
  • Community Development expertise to transform parks into engines that fuel social outcomes in underserved neighbourhoods

Projects

Rail Deck Park Engagement (2017)

Park People is working with the City of Toronto City Planning and Parks, Forestry and Recreation to raise awareness and engage community members about the proposed Rail Deck Park, an ambitious and exciting plan to create a new signature 21-acre park over a downtown rail corridor. Park People is leading a series of walks exploring signature parks in Toronto, soliciting feedback from community members on their vision for the park, and creating shareable online articles that inform and inspire about the project.

Public Life Study (2016)

Park People worked with the City of Toronto and Gehl Studio to undertake Toronto’s first public life survey. Park People recruited more than 60 volunteer surveyors and coordinated and managed the study of people’s use of Downtown public spaces. Park People trained volunteer surveyors to conduct  behavioural observation surveys, pedestrian and cycling counts, as well as demographic information. The data was then organized for analysis by Gehl Studio.

Under Gardiner: Programming, Operations, and Maintenance Study (2016)

Commissioned by Waterfront Toronto, Park People worked with HR&A Advisors to undertake a study of Project: Under Gardiner, a unique proposed linear public space underneath an elevated highway in downtown Toronto. The study estimated future operating and maintenance costs and examined potential governance options for the park based on both local and international precedents. The final recommendation to create a new non-profit management entity was adopted unanimously by City Council.

Under Gardiner Community Engagement (2016)

Park People worked with Waterfront Toronto to offer unique public engagement opportunities as part of a wider public consultation process for Project: Under Gardiner, a proposed linear public space underneath an elevated highway in downtown Toronto. Park People designed and led walking workshops on the site that invited participants to share observations and ideas that were then fed back to the project team. Over 200 people participated in 4 separate walks.

Sparking Change (2014-Ongoing)

From the beginning, Park People has focused on animating and improving parks in underserved neighbourhoods.  We have unique insight into what it takes to work with community groups, nonprofits, citizens, and funders to meet youth engagement, health promotion, food security and physical recreation goals in parks. Through TD Park Builders Park People administered micro “seed” grants to help residents transform underserved parks into neighbourhood hubs.We have partnered to deliver initiatives like Arts in the Parks and Moonlight Movies to bring creative programming to Toronto’s underserved neighbourhoods.

Research and Planning

Breaking New Ground (2017)

From growing food to restoring natural habitat to bringing arts programming to parks, the Weston Family Parks Challenge kick-started a more creative, collaborative approach to green space in Toronto. Breaking New Ground highlights what we can learn from the Weston Family Parks Challenge, and how we can apply those lessons to other municipalities to help guide the future of park philanthropy in Canada. Breaking New Ground was produced by Park People with funding from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ontario Trillium FoundationRead Report Here >>

Sparking Change (2017)

Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and TD Bank, our Sparking Change Report explores the community and social impacts of involving residents in underserved communities more deeply in park animation and improvement projects. Read Report Here >>

Thriving Places (2016)

Thriving Places continues the work of Making Connections by highlighting15 innovative parks and open space projects—such as downtown squares, urban trails, and street redesigns—in the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The report highlights areas that are undergoing intensification and demographic change. Thriving Places was funded by the Province of Ontario. Read Report Here >>

Making Connections (2015)

Making Connections is a ground-breaking report that examines strategies for creating a connected network of parks and open spaces in urban neighbourhoods. The report focuses on non-traditional open spaces such as hydro corridors, laneways, streets, plazas, and schoolyards as well as traditional parks. Launched in April 2015, Making Connections has been downloaded over 15,000 times and helped influence the City of Toronto’s TOCore downtown parks master plan. Read Report Here >>

Growing Opportunities (2014)

Growing Opportunities proposed park partnership possibilities for Allan Gardens, a signature downtown Toronto Park and Conservatory. The report reviewed options and recommended a partnership model for the Friends of Allan Gardens to best engage with the City and the surrounding community. The report was funded by TD Bank and commissioned by the Friends of Allan Gardens. Read Report Here >>

Building Solutions Stories:

Six things we can learn from Berczy Park

After years of design meetings and then more of construction, the newly revitalized Berczy Park is now officially open. We profiled the design of this upcoming park as a best practice in our Making Connections report back in 2015, so it was wonderful to attend the...

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