For as long as I’ve been paying attention, parks have been places where community engagement and stewardship intersect (and sometimes collide) with municipal governance. The evolution of Dufferin Grove, the artistic reclamation of Mabelle, and the formation of parks advocacy group Park People all point to a need to think differently about how Toronto’s parks are managed, funded, and programmed. Problem is, conversations around these issues usually position community groups and city staff as adversaries in a turf war, which makes for great storytelling but little progress.
Through last year’s inaugural Park Summit, Park People (whose Executive Director, Dave Harvey, was profiled in Spacing’s 2011 Fall issue) began the process of making these conversations more productive. The Summit “brings park advocates, city staff, and experts together with community groups, city councillors, and concerned Torontonians to network, brainstorm and work together for better parks in Toronto.”
This year’s Park Summit is this Saturday, May 12, from 1:30 – 5:30, at the Evergreen Brickworks. The Summit’s theme is Connecting Toronto’s People and Parks, and focuses on how Toronto residents are improving their local parks. Robert Hammond, Co-Founder of Friends of the High Line in New York City, will give the keynote speech.
The evolving relationship between communities and municipal government will likely touch more and more parks as people begin to demand more of these public spaces, so this year’s theme is both timely and important. The event is free (though you have to RSVP), and there is a suggested $20 donation to help Park People continue its work.
More details are available on the event’s Eventbrite listing.
Photo by Katherine Fleitas