Gil Penalosa Releases ‘Parks for Everyone’ Plan

Candidate releases his 'Parks for Everyone' plan after consultation with residents across Toronto.

Gil Penalosa Releases ‘Parks for Everyone’ Plan

Greenspace Strategy to Transform Parks into Year-round Community Hubs

Gil releases his 'Parks for Everyone' plan with supporters in Oriole Park.

Above: Gil releases his 'Parks for Everyone' plan with supporters in Oriole Park.

Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa released his ‘Parks for Everyone’ plan this morning in his first campaign event at Oriole Park in Midtown Toronto. The Plan comes after a week listening to residents in parks across Toronto, ending in Scarborough yesterday. Residents from across the city told Gil that the first step for local parks to reach their full potential is to address core problems that have become increasingly common in recent years, including:

  • Water fountains not functional well into June
  • Too many park washrooms closed altogether, or too early in the evening
  • Wading pools not open and swimming lessons cancelled due to a lack of lifeguards
  • Overflowing garbage cans leading to trash strewn across parks


“The pandemic has shown us that our parks are essential for physical and mental health,” said Penalosa. “Toronto’s park system has the potential to be the best in the world. We need to harness the ideas I have heard from local residents who know best how to improve their neighbourhood greenspaces.”


The Parks for Everyone Plan will improve essential parks functioning by:

  • Winterizing washrooms in large parks allowing Torontonians to use park washrooms and water fountains all year round
  • Leaving park washrooms open longer in summer months by shifting ward-based closing schedule from 8-10pm to 9-11pm on a rotating basis
  • Increasing pay for lifeguards to ensure there will be enough qualified staff to keep wading pools open and swimming lessons from being cancelled
  • Emptying waste more frequently instead of dumping additional unattractive waste bins across parks


Gil also heard from residents that parks should be more lively and fun places that build community. The Parks for Everyone Plan will animate parks year round with:

  • Participatory budgeting – local communities know best what they need. As Mayor, Gil will allocate a percentage of the parks budget to every Ward each year for communities to vote on their priorities including new playgrounds, basketball courts, cricket pitches, chess tables, and community gardens
  • Food kiosks – install small stands with outdoor seating to allow local businesses to sell healthy food that reflects the diversity of Toronto.
  • Winter parks – support natural rinks, activities such as snow sculptures, hot chocolate, public art projects
  • Allow alcohol in parks – follow the lead of most major cities in Canada and around the world by allowing the consumption of alcohol in parks until 9pm all year round
  • Public-facing Parks Supervisors – make the name and contact information for areas parks supervisors public and task them to work with local communities to engage residents and facilitate activities
  • Park Activators – Expand the PlayTO and Summer in the 6IX programs by offering programs for all ages, all year round. Park activators will lead activities including sports, crafts, nature walks for children, seniors, and everyone in between all day during the summer months, with the addition of weekends, and from 4-6 from fall through to spring.


Gil is the Founder and Chair of the successful Canadian non-profit organization 8 80 Cities, as well as the first Ambassador of World Urban Parks, the international representative body for city parks, open space and, the recreation sector. Throughout his career, Gil has been a strong advocate for improving city parks, making his first mark in Bogotá, Colombia, where he led the design and construction of over 200 parks - including Simon Bolivar, a 113-hectare park in the heart of the city.

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