Sparking Change

Fostering community well-being in underserved neighbourhood parks


Sparking Change Where it’s Needed Most

In underserved communities, parks are a crucial but often untapped resource for youth engagement, health promotion, access to healthy local food, community economic development, environmental education, and physical recreation.

The Sparking Change program works with communities on the ground to transform underused outdoor spaces into dynamic green community hubs. Park People helps to organize local residents, create partnerships, access seed funding, and build momentum through events and activities. Download our Sparking Change report to learn more.


Park people works with its partners to spark innovative park programming in high-needs communities.

Together with TD Bank Group, Park People delivers the TD Park Builders Program which encourages community engagement and animation of vital community green space in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas and low-income communities.

Under the program, Park People supports the work of existing volunteer Friends of the Park groups and community agencies in new immigrant and Neighbourhood Improvement Areas. In addition, we foster the development of new Friends of the Park groups. As part of the program, there is also support for park events or small capital improvement projects ranging from $500-$5,000.

The TD Park Builders Program helps communities turn their green spaces into vital neighbourhood hubs.

More details on the program are in the attached program description below. To learn more about how to participate in the TD Park Builders Program, please review the funding guidelines here. If you have further questions, contact

Bringing the Arts to Parks

Park People bring free Arts programming to underserved neighbourhoods to help bring these green spaces alive with culture and to help local Friends Groups and non-profit organizations help realize their vision for their local park.  In the past year, we’ve been part of two key programs that focus on animating underserved parks.

  • Park People partnered with The Toronto Arts Foundation’s to deliver its Arts in the Parks program. In its first year, Arts in the Parks brought over 30 artists to more than 30 underserved parks resulting in more than 100 incredible summer performances
  • Moonlight Movies brought 1,800 enthusiastic fans into parks in underserved neighbourhoods to see free, popular movies in the open air.  These movies help animate parks and jumpstart community engagement in sparking parks’ potential.

The Panorama Community Garden has become the “go to” space in the Rexdale Community… Park People has worked closely with gardeners to develop their leadership and empower local residents to develop their own projects and invest in the community.

Tania Fernandes

Health Promoter, Rexdale Community Health Centre

We now have a partnership with the City of Toronto, with many different organizations in Bathurst Finch and across the city as well as with the great diversity of people who live in this community.  Park People has helped us build our capacity and our confidence to work with reputable partnership like Heritage Toronto to make our community a better place to live.

Angie Buado

Coordinator, Friends of Earl Bales Park

Sparking Change Stories:

Parks as natural places for engagement across difference

In advance of our national city parks conference in Calgary in March 2017, we caught up with keynote speaker Jay Pitter, an author, placemaker and senior stakeholder engagement professional. Jay Pitter's work focuses on increasing the capacity, resources, and...

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Catalyzing the power of parks for social connection

At a time when increasing attention is being paid to the growing inequality of our cities and neighbourhood-based inequities, it’s critical that we examine how engaging in our parks and public spaces can create more inclusive, equitable places that are shaped by and...

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