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Rink Social Placemaking pilots

place-making photos: heat lamp at West Mall Rink Feb.9, 2019
Here's what appears to be a City of Toronto press release, Jan.31, 2019. Forwarded by Dale Howey.

City of Toronto launching initiative to bring new life to Toronto's parks and recreation facilities

The City of Toronto in partnership with national charity Evergreen and Montreal-based place-making firm La Pépinière invites communities to reimagine their local parks and public spaces. Place-making refers to a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces.

Starting February 9, a series of place-making pilots will launch across the city. The initiative, made possible with the financial support of the Bombardier Foundation, brings together community leaders, City staff, the public and experts in place-making to bring new life to some of Toronto’s parks and recreation facilities.

Rink Social, the first of the place-making pilots, will focus on Toronto's outdoor ice rinks and transform four of these community facilities into hubs of free activity on and off the ice. The Rink Social pilot will be delivered in partnership with the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation and Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities.

Rink Social will take place in parks in different areas of the city for one weekend each, with enhanced outdoor community space featuring warming huts, skate lending, on- and off-ice winter play, crafting and cozying up by the fire for a feast of family fun. Food and drink vendors will offer comfort and nourishment to brave the cold. Future projects in the place-making initiative will focus on other public spaces such as beaches and conservatories.

Rink Social will be available on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. as follows:

February 9 to 10 – West Mall Outdoor Rink, 370 The West Mall

February 16 to 18 (including Family Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.) – Regent Park Athletic Grounds Rink, 480 Shuter St.

Feb 23 to 24 – McCowan District Park Rink, 150 McCowan Rd.

March 2 to 3 – Mel Lastman Square Rink, 5100 Yonge St.

Through the place-making initiative, Evergreen and La Pépinière brought together City partners, staff and designers to rethink the public's relationship with each rink. Incorporating interest in ancillary services such as skate lending, social gathering spaces and food and beverage opportunities, the team worked to add low-cost and temporary furniture, activities and décor that will transform each space into an even-more vibrant community gathering space. This initiative will be used to gather data on user interest and satisfaction to guide future space and program design.

More information about Rink Social and other winter activities in Toronto is available at the city's "Welcome to Winter" events page.


"The City builds parks and recreation facilities because we know how important they are to residents. Our public spaces are well-loved and well-used, and I am excited to see these pilots in action in communities across our city." - Toronto Mayor John Tory

"Great public spaces are at the heart of vibrant cities and we are thrilled with the City’s commitment to partnering to experiment with ways we can bring new vitality to existing public spaces. Our beloved outdoor rinks are a great location to build on residents’ love for skating and shinny. We are excited to take the best of the winter social season and bring it outdoors." - Geoff Cape, CEO, Evergreen

About Evergreen

Since 1991, Evergreen, a not-for-profit, has provoked bold action in transforming public landscapes into thriving community spaces. We believe that connecting people, natural and built worlds create flourishing cities for the future. For more than 25 years Evergreen has connected, collaborated, and catalyzed Canadians to do amazing things positively affecting attitudes and behaviours that lie at the core of a sustainable city.

About La Pépinière

Born in 2014 from a citizen's initiative, La Pépinière is today the leader of the place-making movement in Quebec, with more than 30 projects completed. With its expertise, La Pépinière implements programs to support the multiplication of the number of collective spaces and the number of actors able to carry them.


Montreal-based place-making firm La Pépinière got a $250,000 grant from the McConnell Foundation, to bring placemaking to Toronto. There isn't much about La Pépinière online but Maxim Bragoli, one of the two founders, was a speaker at the November 2018 Future Cities Canada Summit (also funded by the McConnell Foundation) in Toronto, held at Evergreen Brickworks. The Summit bio describes him as "a social entrepreneur. He has a masters in business with a major in finance. He started his career in banking, software and business development but his passion for the city brought him to start with Jerome Glad La Pépinière I Espaces Collectifs, a Montreal-based non-profit dedicated to help local communities develop innovative collective urban projects."

Of note:

The city's events posting says "The Rink Social pilot is delivered in partnership with the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Foundation, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities and Bombardier Foundation." No mention of Evergreen or La Pépinière.


What it looked like:

West Mall, Feb.9, 2019

The Evergreen posting after the West Mall pilot is here

Regent, Feb.18, 2019

McCowan, Feb.23, 2019

Mel Lastman Rink, March 3, 2019

Some photos of the special placemaking furniture the city bought are here


What happened next:

April 8, 2019,Request for information, sent to Allison Duchaisne, Supervisor, Marketing, Communications and Events | Office of the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Matt Cutler, whom I saw just before he stopped being the PFR partnership manager, told me that sometime this spring or summer there will be a ECDC report about the city's "Rink Socials"/place-making partnerships that happened in February/March. Could you let me know at which committee meeting that report will be on the agenda?

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May 30, 2019, Response from [email protected], City of Toronto, re the Rinks Socials cost

·the amount of the Bombardier donation?

The Bombardier donation was gifted directly to Evergreen. The City partners Evergreen on many placemaking initiatives throughout Toronto and this donation provided an opportunity to explore further placemaking exercises and become a learning and capacity building project for both partners.

-the cost of city staff support (there were extra city staff assigned to all of the events)?

Four part-time City workers were hired to support the skating lending library, arts and crafts and on-ice activities at a cost of $1674.84 in total wages per event. This is in addition to two full-time City staff workers and many others who supported some of the events or scheduled their shift for one of the event weekends, which was accommodated within existing resources.

-the cost of the many items of park furniture purchased for the events?

The cost of the furniture was approximately $40, 000 and has been distributed to city recreation facilities for repurposing.

-the cost of hiring Evergreen to run the actual events?

Parks, Forestry and Recreation partnered with Evergreen and Montreal-based place-making firm La Pépinière to undertake a series of pilot placemaking initiatives throughout the city. Evergreen worked with La Pépinière for event project management, event evaluation, and a final report for which the fee was $15,000.

-Does the City intend to publish this information?

The City holds hundreds of event every year and does not report back unless directed by Council.


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Content last modified on November 12, 2019, at 10:23 AM EST