Public Space Incubator Past Recipients

2019 Recipients

Pop-Up Playground – The Bentway

Many of us have fond memories of heading to the local park to play. But play can be so much more than the standard playgrounds found in many of our parks today—and it can reach across age.

Using an already experimental public space in Toronto—The Bentway—this pop-up playground project will use temporary installations to explore new forms of playing in public space while encouraging communities to interact with their city—and each other—in unexpected ways. 

Led by The Bentway in partnership with Montreal-based interactive design studio, Daily Tous les jours, the project will encourage interactive play on the Bentway site through the creation of whimsical play structures.

“The Bentway is thrilled to have been selected as a recipient of Park People’s Public Space Incubator grant. With this support, we will be exploring how play can help reshape community spaces in new and exciting ways. We are so excited to be part of a movement of organizations and individuals in Toronto working to rethink public space, encouraging connection and community through active programming.” — Ilana Altman, Co-Executive Director, The Bentway Conservancy.

Credit picture: Andrew Williamson

Corner Commons – Jane/Finch Centre

The parking lot at the Jane-Finch Mall has long been used as an informal gathering space and rallying point for local residents, grassroots groups, and community organizations. Over the years, people of all ages and backgrounds have come together here for community celebrations, performances, demonstrations, and small markets.

Corner Commons aims to honour these uses and enhance the parking lot’s potential for hosting and supporting a range of activities. This community-driven project includes creating a flexible shelter for neighbourhood programming and transforming the parking lot through new seating, plantings, lighting, and art. Corner Commons will also be used as a space to host planning discussions as the Finch LRT project brings change to the neighbourhood.

Coordinated by the Jane/Finch Centre, the project is supported by architectural and design firm Perkins + Will and a community working group made up of resident leaders and local organizations.

Corner Commons is a collaborative effort that recognizes this parking lot’s special history, role, and location in the Jane-Finch community. This Public Space Incubator grant will help us elevate the site as a public space, and introduce programs and features to make the place more functional, comfortable, and welcoming.” – Corner Commons team. 

Credit picture: Ernestine Aying.

Oculus – Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO)

You might have seen it as you biked, ran, walked, or rolled along the Humber River Trail just north of the lake and wondered what is that? No, it’s not a long-forgotten spaceship. It’s actually the Oculus, built in 1959 and now an under-used park pavilion.

The Oculus revitalization project will showcase how innovative design solutions and community partnerships can conserve heritage in an environmentally sustainable way while also creating a unique and vibrant place for people. By restoring and cleaning the existing pavilion and implementing flexible and contextual outdoor furniture and lighting, this project aims to elevate the Oculus to its rightful spot as a community gathering place along the trail. 

Led by the Architectural Conservancy of Ontario and Giaimo Architects, this initiative will include public design workshops and programming such as walks, talks, and installations that help transform the Oculus.

“The Oculus is a bold and eccentric piece of modernist architecture, but over time it has deteriorated and is now underutilized as a park pavilion. The Public Space Incubator grant provides us the opportunity to give new life to this abandoned space-age structure and showcase how architectural heritage conservation and community partnerships can create engaging public spaces.” — Stephanie Mah, VP of ACO Toronto. 

Credit picture: Stephanie Mah.

Snack Snack Revolution – MABELLEarts

Food and parks—there’s nothing better for bringing people together. But this combination can also provide important local economic development and small businesses training. 

Inspired by the global nights markets and the snack stalls of India, Snack Snack Revolution will incorporate micro-business training and mentorship with an innovative design of mobile snack stalls to debut at a night market festival. The night market will also be animated by artists and community members to help tell the stories of the neighbourhood. 

Led by MABELLEarts, an arts organization, the project will take place in Mabelle Park, a green space at the heart of a Toronto Community Housing neighbourhood in Etobicoke. MABELLEarts has worked for over ten years in the community with thousands of residents of all ages and backgrounds alongside professional artists, architects, builders, and gardeners. 

The Public Space Incubator is fueling beauty, opportunity and community connection on Mabelle Avenue.  This support of Snack Snack Revolution is helping MABELLEarts to work with skilled home cooks, architects and chefs to design and test two snack stalls to be run by Mabelle residents during a series of Night Markets in the Mabelle Park.  Thank you Park People, Ken and Eti Greenberg and the Balsam Foundation for your support – it’s delicious!” – Leah Houston, MABELLEarts. 

Credit picture: Liam Cook

Bowmanville Valleys 2000 – Resilient Circle of Green Project

The Resilient Circle of Green project is a community-inspired outreach and engagement project aimed to educate the public on the ecological, cultural and economic significance of the Bowmanville Creek Valley System.  Through the development of both trail-side and digital wayfinding stations this project will engage the public in both guided and self-directed learning that will tell the story of the valley and broader Greenbelt system.  


City of Vaughan – Doctors Mclean Urban River Valley Outreach Project

This project supports existing City initiatives, such as the City-wide Vaughan Super Trail which proposes to create an integrated trails system throughout the City and the Great Walks of Vaughan program which encourages residents to explore the City’s trail system. The project will create greater community awareness of its trail network through an open-house event and hands-on planting activity.  The community will be educated on the importance of the Humber River Urban River Valley located within the Greenbelt Natural Heritage System.

Friends of the Rouge Watershed – Greening the Rouge Project

Through a learning-by-doing approach, this community-powered project will deepen participants’ understanding of watershed health, the Greenbelt, and our interconnectedness with these natural systems.  Decades of urban and agricultural development have put additional pressure on the carrying capacity of the Rouge River watershed. Since 1991, Friends of the Rouge Watershed has been leading hands-on restoration initiatives throughout the watershed to improve and enhance this natural feature.  This project will engage over 2000 participants in naturalization activities that will increase tree canopy cover and biodiversity to enhance viable wildlife habitat, improve water quality and off-set climate change impacts. 

Ontario Streams – Adopt-A-Stream Project

Ontario Streams is dedicated to the conservation, enhancement and rehabilitation of streams and wetlands across the GTA.  The Adopt-A-Stream program will engage participants in hands-on riparian restoration and stewardship activities at key sites within river valleys in Richmond Hill, Markham and Brampton.  Volunteers will gain broad appreciation for these natural systems by participating in native plantings, in­stream litter clean ups, installing in­stream habitat enhancement structures and biological monitoring.


The Riverwood Conservancy – Wings, Wildflowers and Wilderness

Riverwood Park in Mississauga is a Greenbelt-protected 150-acre oasis of wetlands, forests, creeks, and ravines on the banks of the Credit River, and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy. Through hands-on community events, the Wings, Wildflower and Wilderness Project will address the growing threats to airborne wildlife within the river valley system such as habitat loss, invasive species and climate change. The Riverwood Conservancy champions community-focused environmental stewardship of this natural area, and strives to connect people with nature. Local events will engage over 800 participants in activities such as native wildflower plantings, invasive species removals, and the construction and installation of a ‘Bee Hotel’ – the ideal habitat for a wide variety of solitary nesting bees and insects.


2018 Recipients

Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) – The Ajax River Valley Biodiversity Project

The Duffins Creek in Ajax will be the focus of youth leadership and citizen science project that will introduce Ajax high school volunteers and their families to the biodiversity in their local Greenbelt protected river valley system. The TRCA’s Conservation Youth Corps (CYC), made up of high school volunteers, will be working alongside conservation and municipal professionals to improve parks located within the Duffins Creek ecosystem. Through intensive hands-on mentorship, the youth volunteers will build a deeper understanding of the valuable role of conservation and habitat protection in our urban areas. In addition, a series of citizen science events will provide fun, hands-on family-oriented learning experiences that will draw attention to the species that make their home in the urban river valley systems. Participants will learn proper techniques to identify and monitor species using the iNaturalist app and will contribute to long-term conservation data. The programs will help youth understand their power, ability, and agency to contribute to the future of our urban river valleys and to have a voice in local environmental decision making.

The Riverwood Conservancy – Critters and Creeks Project

Riverwood in Mississauga is a Greenbelt protected 150-acre oasis of wetlands, forests, creeks, and ravines on the bank of the Credit River and is home to The Riverwood Conservancy. The Critters and Creeks Project will be rooted in hands-on community events that address three emerging threats to MacEwan Creek and Chappell Creek and the ecosystems they support as they flow into the Credit River: non-native invasive plants, slope erosion and off trail traffic. With an abundant portfolio of community-based programming, The Riverwood Conservancy champions the environmental stewardship of this natural area and strives to meaningfully connect people to nature. Local events will engage the community in activities such as invasive species removals, restoration plantings and educational excursions that promote the link between water quality and the health of local ‘critters’ such as snakes, frogs, weasels, deer and other species. A highlight of the project will be DogFest, a day-long celebration and dog-walk-a-thon to theriver and back, to raise awareness about the importance of keeping dogs on-leash and pickingup their waste to protect water quality and wildlife in Riverwood, and beyond. 

Friends of Parkway Forest – “Be a Native Plant Guru” Project

Led by a Toronto Park Friends group, Friends of Parkway Forest Park, this series of seven workshops will connect local newcomer groups to indigenous plants that grow in their neighbourhood ravines. The Greenbelt protected ravines in North York’s densely populated Don Mills and Sheppard area are often underutilized by local residents. However, these ravines are home to many indigenous plants that are used for medicinal purposes by ethno-cultural groups that live in the area. This program will use indigenous plants as a catalyst to build an appreciation for the Greenbelt ecosystem while helping to reduce social isolation for local newcomers. Ultimately, the project will establish environmental stewards among newcomer groups in the Parkway Forest Community who can play an ongoing role in promoting the health of our local urban ecosystems.

David Suzuki Foundation- The Butterflyway Project

The Butterflyway Project will engage a network of volunteer ‘Rangers’ within the Mount Joy and Morningside Creek waterways in planting a network of 12 pollinator-friendly canoe garden installations in river valleys permanently protected by the Greenbelt. We know that about 90 percent of flowering plant species depend on pollinators. However, a recent poll revealed about two-thirds of Canadians couldn’t identify a single native bee, even though Canada has more than 800 species. These canoe garden installations will not only help build important pollinator habitat in the region, but will help to raise awareness of how protected, naturalized river systems support the health of all species, and are essential to human life.  Each of the installations will be led by dedicated Butterfly Rangers who will work collaboratively with residents, park staff (in both Markham and Toronto), schools, local groups and individuals to steward and maintain the canoe gardens.  A series of pollinator themed celebrations will highlight the essential relationship between the health of local pollinators, our food system and the importance of Ontario’s Greenbelt.

The City of Markham- Shinrin Yoku Project

The City of Markham will establish a series of trails and host guided walks that promote the therapeutic practice of Forest Bathing, or Shinrin Yoku in Japanese. These paths, along Greenbelt urban river valley protected lands, will be the first Global Institute of Forest Therapy (GIFT) designated trails in Canada. Extensive research has pointed to the health benefits of Forest Bathing. Researchers have found that city dwellers who spend time in forests have lower heart rates, lower blood pressure and lower concentrations of stress hormones. The creation of Forest Bathing trails and guided walks will provide an opportunity to connect communities to their Greenbelt protected river valleys and shine the light on the positive mental and physical health impacts of spending relaxed quality time in nature. This project will take place in four parks located in both the Rouge River and Don River watersheds in the City of Markham.

Urban Discovery

Urban Discovery is a youth-focused initiative that aims to change perceptions about things normally viewed as a nuisance—like a large downtown rail corridor. By creating a viewing area out of a shipping container and exterior area, the project will present the 14 tracks in the rail corridor at Bathurst and Front as an object of education and curiousity, helping us to connect in a new way with a part of the city often overlooked.

Based at stackt, a shipping container market and cultural hub at Bathurst and Front Street, Urban Discovery will be programmed in partnership with pop-up adventure playground specialists Earth Day Canada and educational programming by the Children’s Discovery Centre. While the viewing area will be open at all times stackt is operational, programming will be delivered at key moments throughout the project starting in Spring 2019.

Urban Discovery presents an exciting opportunity to change our thinking about areas of the city that may be called “eyesores” by reframing them into something engaging for all ages. 

“We are thrilled to have been awarded the Public Space Incubator grant. This grant will assist us in further enhancing our objective of taking unused land at 28 Bathurst and transforming it into an experience of curated discovery for all of our visitors.” – Matt Rubinoff, stackt Founder

Rendering of potential viewing platform by LGA Architectural Partners.


Thorncliffe Community Café

There’s nothing quite like food to bring people together. Visit a park in Toronto, however, and you may be disappointed in the lack of food options, and especially food options that are provided by local businesses. What if we could harness the power of food in parks to support local economies while creating opportunities for community members to come together and share a meal?

The Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee hopes to do just that. With a new shipping container community café already established in the park through funding from the City, Trillium Foundation, and Metcalfe Foundation, the group is now looking to establish a sustainable model for its operation that provides economic opportunities for local residents, many of them newcomers, to become entrepreneurs. Starting Fall 2018, food-centred programming will ensure the café remains a lively hub of activity throughout the year and offer training in the areas of food handling, business, and customer service skills development.

It represents a model of community-led park-based local economic development and entrepreneurship that could be replicated in parks across the city.

“The Public space Incubator grant will help us in developing a sustainable park-based model of economic development & entrepreneurship. It will support the community based programming and will create a place of engagement for the people in RV Burgess Park—a community centre without boundaries.” – Sabina Ali, Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee


Nicholson Lane Linear Park

When is a laneway more than just a laneway? When it’s a park of course. Or a community gathering space. Or a micro-retail hub. Or maybe when it’s all of these things.

By working with partners along Nicholson Lane in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, The Laneway Project will transform this laneway through plantings, public art, seating, lighting, and, ultimately, the creation of mobile micro-scale units to create affordable places for local businesses to set up shop and community organizations to offer programming. The project will draw on and involve local businesses and organizations in the area such as the Canadian Opera Company,Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, and Jamii Esplanade to help care for and activate the laneway.

The Laneway Project has led other laneway transformations before, such as Rush Lane, but this will represent a larger vision for what commercial laneways in our city could become in the future if they are thought of as spaces for people. Coming Spring 2019.

“Laneways at the moment are a ubiquitous but forgotten layer of Toronto’s public realm. This PSI grant will enable us to work with the St. Lawrence community to demonstrate the potential of these spaces as vibrant, appealing places to be, not only for passive enjoyment but also for active economic and cultural use.” – Michelle Senayah, The Laneway Project



Since they popped up in San Francisco years ago, the idea of parklets—mini public spaces established in parking spaces—has caught on in multiple cities around North America, including Toronto. But these tend to be clustered in downtown neighbourhoods, even though many commercial strips outside the downtown have the same kind of vibrant community life.

That’s where plazaPOPS comes in. University of Guelph professors Brendan Stewart and Karen Landman and Master of Landscape Architecture grad Daniel Rotsztain are partnering with the Wexford Heights BIA to create a pop-up plaza in one of the area’s lively strip mall parking lots along Lawrence Avenue in Scarborough.

Opening in Spring 2019, the team will work with Scarborough Arts to engage with local artists to animate the parklet over three weekends of pop-up programming. This project imagines a new future for our strip mall parking lots to support public life outside the downtown core, while creating more comfortable outdoor spaces for people to gather. 

“The plazaPOPS team is thrilled to have received the PSI grant and looks forward to embarking on a collaborative community design process and producing an impactful project that enhances the vitality of Toronto’s strip mall landscapes.” – plazaPOPS team


Red Embers

Allan Gardens is one of Toronto’s most historic parks, founded in 1858 with its iconic glass Palm House and century-old trees. The installation, Red Embers, recognizes that the park has long been an important gathering space for Indigenous peoples, while also struggling with issues of vandalism and violence. Conceived as a celebration of the brilliance of Indigenous artists and as a memorial to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Red Embers seeks to open up new positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The Red Embers installation is a site-specific work by Indigenous designers Tiffany Creyke, Larissa Roque and Citylab’s Lisa Rochon. Below the tree canopy and along the major pathways in Allan Gardens, thirteen charred cedar gates will be installed with a great red banner suspended from each one. All of the fabric banners will be individually stitched and interpreted by local Indigenous women, including celebrated designers and artists. The installation honours the 13 Grandmother Moons within the Lunar System, as it is the Grandmother Moon that provides healing and a re-balancing of energy for women who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault. The unveiling of Red Embers in the Spring 2019 will be accompanied by a smudging ceremony led by an Elder and be linked to Indigenous programming in Allan Gardens.

Red Embers is an important and powerful symbol of increased inclusion through Indigenous placemaking, showing a path forward as our city works towards Reconciliation. 

“Art can change attitudes and open our minds. Red Embers, with its banners artfully designed by Indigenous women, will magnetically draw visitors to Allan Gardens to experience a powerful installation about the vitality of Indigenous women while honouring the ones who left us too soon. By championing the reinvention of underutilized space in the City of Toronto through meaningful public art, PSI helps to build a more liveable and tolerant city.” – Red Embers team

2016 Recipients

Franklin the Turtle’s Habitat Restoration and Bring Back the Wild Program

This innovative partnership between the City of Toronto and Earth Rangers will create a thriving wetland ecosystem focused on turtle habitat restoration at the pond in Franklin’s Garden on Centre Island. As a new Toronto hub for the Earth Rangers’ programs, Franklin’s Garden will also host environmental education for school groups, recreational visitors and local residents. The long-term sustainability of the project will be ensured through its strong partnerships and community engagement.

A Tale of Two Parks

This project will engage residents in nature-focused activities and improvements in Broadacres Park, located in Etobicoke’s West Mall neighbourhood. Inspired in part by an innovative partnership with the City of Toronto’s Community Policing Program, local youth and families are at the centre of a process to develop community cohesion through green space revitalization and environmental projects. With support from The Weston Family Parks Challenge, A Tale of Two Parks will lay the groundwork for a comprehensive plan for a nearby Toronto Community Housing green space called West Mall Park.

Community Grown Flemingdon: Vibrant Market Gardens and Community Owned Spaces

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting FoodShare Toronto and the Flemingdon Health Centre’s Community Grown Flemingdon: Vibrant Market Gardens and Community Owned Spaces in Flemingdon Park. As part of the City’s Community Engagement and Entrepreneurial Development (CEED) Garden pilot project, this initiative will test a new model for urban agriculture in hydro corridors by transforming under-utilized green space into a thriving community hub. FoodShare’s collaboration with local partners and the City will ensure the project’s long-term sustainability. In a dense, high-rise neighbourhood, this project will lay the foundation for a community-based urban farming model that could be replicated in cities across Canada.

Gardens for Nature Project: Restoring Urban Bird and Wildlife Habitat

Located in the Humber Arboretum, the Gardens for Nature Project will demonstrate how residents and community groups can successfully plan, create, and maintain gardens that support thriving populations of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife species. Illustrating that urban habitat creation efforts at any scale can provide meaningful benefits to birds, biodiversity and the environment. Gardens for Nature will engage diverse communities and train volunteer habitat stewards with the support of the Weston Family Parks Challenge.

Morningside Heights Community Farm

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting Malvern Family Resources’ Morningside Heights Community Farm. As part of the City’s Community Engagement and Entrepreneurial Development (CEED) Garden pilot project, this initiative will provide residents in Scarborough with opportunities to grow organic food locally and to develop vibrant public space in an under-utilized hydro corridor. With an outdoor learning classroom and food market space, the farm will also offer opportunities for hands-on-learning and community economic development. The project will engage children, youth and families in nature-focused activities for years to come.

Aptus Teaching Landscape

A nature-focused educational environment and activity hub for students with complex disabilities and the greater community, the Aptus Teaching Landscape in North York is an enhanced learning green space that will include a fruit orchard, edible garden and mini-arboretum. Through the Weston Family Parks Challenge, education and stewardship opportunities will engage students and local residents in environmental programs as well as complement the City’s recreational improvements to an adjacent park.

Black Creek Community Farm

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is providing a grant over the next three years to the Black Creek Community Farm project. The funds will be used to restore woodlands, create a food forest and gardens, and provide community programming. “The farm is an exciting project that transforms a previously hidden piece of land into an incredible natural asset for the Jane-Finch neighbourhood and the residents of Toronto”, said Camilla Dalglish, Director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation. “We are delighted to support this innovative partnership between the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and Everdale that will transform this site and revitalize the community’s connection to nature.”

San Romanoway Revitalization Project

The Toronto Region Conservation Authority’s San Romanoway Outdoor Revitalization 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.

William Burgess School

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is supporting Bringing Back Nature to William Burgess School with a grant to transform the schoolyard into a natural community gathering point for the entire neighbourhood. The funding will complete a multi-year effort that involves a partnership between the school, parents, the city councillor, and several non-profits who have been working for three years to bring their vision to life. The project will include a new natural playground, discovery trail and improve natural landscaping. “We’re happy to add The W. Garfield Weston Foundation as another partner in transforming William Burgess School into a green oasis for our community” said Alexandra Maric Jones, director of the Bringing Back Nature project at the school. “This generous gift from the Weston Foundation will allow us to complete the vision of a natural community gathering place which we’ve been working towards for 3 years.”

Youth and Community Natural Area Study and Stewardship at Rouge Park

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting Friends of the Rouge Watershed’s Youth and Community Natural Area Study and Stewardship project. Through an innovative partnership with the Toronto District School Board, students will explore natural systems in designated Nature Study Areas on school grounds. Youth will increase their connection to nature by participating in field trips and stewardship events in various parks in Scarborough. The result of this public, private, non-profit partnership will demonstrate the impact of engaging youth in green space conservation.

Regent Park

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is supporting an innovative and collaborative partnership in Regent Park to engage the community with the City of Toronto’s newest park. The contribution of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation will support community engagement efforts to ensure the long-term sustainability of this new park space as part of the revitalization of the Regent Park neighbourhood. “The generous contribution of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation will ensure this new green space in the Regent Park neighbourhood will be off to a successful start when it opens in 2014” said Liz Curran, Community Food Centre Manager at CRC. “The funding being provided by the Weston Foundation will ensure that the local community is engaged with the wonderful new amenities in this park, which will become a community hub for all who live in the area.”

Ritchie Parkette

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is supporting improvements to natural surroundings at Ritchie Parkette with a grant provided through the Weston Family Parks Challenge, a big boost to this small park setting. The Rotary Club of Toronto, the Friends of Ritchie Parkette, and the Toronto Department of Parks, Forestry & Recreation will use the grant to rehabilitate the parkette’s natural environment, introduce wildlife education and programming.

Roseneath Park

Roseneath is a popular hub for families, young adults, seniors and other members of the community. The parkland was purchased by the City of Toronto approximately four years ago following the previous owner’s attempt to redevelop the site which caused the local community to protest and save the park. The project, in partnership with Arts for Children and Youth, focuses on enriching the park through coordinated eco-action and eco-art projects including a garden shed, an eco-art mosaic (community-built), eco-art workshops, tree plantings, flower plantings and erosion control. “We are very grateful of this support from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation”, said Kasia Briegmann-Samson of Friends of Roseneath Park. “This investment will help us to strengthen the community’s connection to nature by maximizing the “green” factor in a local park space surrounded by concrete.”

2015 Recipients

Alex Wilson Community Garden 20th Anniversary Restoration

The Alex Wilson Community Garden’s 20th Anniversary Restoration project will connect residents to nature in a changing and intensifying downtown community. In preparation for the garden’s 20th anniversary, 43 native species of grasses, vines, shrubs, and trees will be planted, improving habitat for birds and pollinators. This unique and successful partnership model will sustain another 20 years of volunteer stewardship and could be an inspiration for other projects around the city.

Pathways to Park 8: Oakdale Park

The Jane and Finch Boys and Girls Club and Green Change have formed an innovative partnership to launch Pathways to Park 8: Oakdale Park. This pilot project will test a new model for investing in community-led environmental rehabilitation of under-utilized parks, ravines and open spaces. In a densely populated neighbourhood, this initiative will bring together a wide range of partners to improve 

green space and toprovide programs to connect youth and residents to nature. This model has the potential to inspire the transformation of green spaces adjacent to other Boys and Girls Club locations in the Jane and Finch community.

Gatineau Hydro Corridor Revitalization Phase II

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting the second phase of the TRCA’s ongoing naturalization of the Gatineau Hydro Corridor in Scarborough. This phase is part of the larger Weston Family Butterfly Meadow project with a vision to build and naturalize a greenway trail connecting the Lower Don River Trail to Rouge Park. Building on the 88-acres of naturalization to date, diverse partners and local community members will work together to plant a 25-acre native wildflower butterfly habitat. Through education and stewardship programs, community members will be encouraged to connect with nature, take active ownership of the space and maintain it for years to come. See also: Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail.

Ki Bimaadiziwin

For Youth Initiative’s Ki Bimaadiziwin means, “The Land is the Good Life,” in Anishnaabemowin-Ojibwe. This project involves an innovative partnership between For Youth Initiative and Naadmaagit Ki Group (NKG), with additional participation by the TRCA. The Weston Mount Dennis community will have an opportunity to learn about an aboriginal approach to stewardship by improving natural habitat at six sites along the Humber River. This innovative new model will promote long-term community engagement in the stewardship of nature.

Chester Le Diverse Community Garden Project

Agincourt Community Services is launching the Chester Le Diverse Community Garden Project. This initiative will expand the existing garden and connect newcomer populations to nature through innovative environmental programs in four different languages. Public, private and non-profit partnerships will sustain the garden and the nature-focused programs for years to come.

Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail

Toronto and Region Conservation’s (TRCA) Scarborough Centre Butterfly Trail Phase I will be supported by The W. Garfield Weston Foundation Weston Family Parks Challenge. Over the next three years a grant will be used to plant a native wildflower butterfly meadow along a 3.5 km stretch of hydro corridor in central Scarborough which includes new recreational trails for residents to enjoy. See also: Gatineau Hydro Corridor Revitalization Phase II.

2014 Recipients

The Learning Garden Hub at Panorama Park

The Rexdale Community Health Centre’s Panorama Park: The Learning Garden Hub project will bring together innovative partners to engage local youth and residents in hands-on education programs in the community garden at Panorama Park. In a densely populated neighbourhood, this project will provide jobs, youth training and park stewardship opportunities. This initiative demonstrates the impact that nature-focused programs and events can have on connecting communities to their green space.

From Obscurity to Radiance at MacGregor Park

The Weston Family Parks Challenge is supporting MacGregor Park, From Obscurity to Radiance, an innovative partnership between the Dovercourt Boys and Girls Club and the MacGregor Park Art Club. Education and stewardship programs will help transform this underutilized park into vibrant community green space. Local youth and community members will engage in hands-on environmental programs in three new teaching gardens. This project will demonstrate the impact that nature-focused programs and events can have on connecting communities to their green space.

Revitalizing Public Spaces at Thorncliffe Park

The W. Garfield Weston Foundation is supporting the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee and FoodShare to transform R.V. Burgess Park into an outdoor natural classroom in the heart of one of Canada’s most dense and diverse neighbourhoods. The funding from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation will enable new Canadians to learn and be inspired about conservation and healthy living and open a gateway to exploring the vast ravine system in the Don Valley. “R.V. Burgess Park is an essential part of the Thorncliffe Park community, and the support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation will bring an appreciation for this essential green space to members of our community” said Sabina Ali, Project Coordinator at the Thorncliffe Park Women’s Committee. “Neighbours will participate in every aspect of the natural environment, including planting, stewardship, clean-ups and education, and will have a new appreciation for conservation and healthy living as a result.”

Mabelle Place

A Park of Many Paths is a one-year project to establish new green infrastructure on the grounds of Mabelle TCHC in Etobicoke. MABELLEarts will work with landscape architects, artists, community leaders and local residents to construct and plant new rain and community gardens in the Mabelle Park. The rain gardens will consist of native plants and shrubs that will serve to divert storm run-off water away from sewers and into the often-dry Mabelle Park. The community garden will host native edible plants such as wild leeks, garlic, and mint to both increase the variety of native flora in the park and to provide a basis for some of MABELLEarts’s community engagement and educational activities. “This support from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation is critical to this innovative project on a community housing owned greenspace,” said Leah Houston, Artistic Director of MABELLEarts. “It will help us work with community members of all ages and backgrounds to transform a neglected greenspace within a high-density community housing complex into a dynamic, natural park and creative community hub.” 

Colonel Samuel Smith Park Improvement Project

Humber Arboretum’s Colonel Sam Smith Park Improvements and Programs 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.

High Park Nature Centre Outdoor Urban Restoration Space (OURSpace)

High Park Nature Centre’s Outdoor Urban Restoration Space (OURSpace) will bring together innovative partners to create a nature-focused outdoor classroom. Through hands-on education opportunities, High Park Nature Centre and the community will restore an under-utilized area of the park back to the original oak savannah ecosystem. Public, private and non-profit partners will enable the long-term sustainability of the project, facilitating the larger vision of a leading urban nature hub in the historic Forest School building in High Park.