The Volunteer Stewardship Program is now working directly with Urban Forestry not HPCAC. Please see www.highparknature.org for updated information.
Park Community Advisory Council (HPCAC)
Park Volunteer Stewardship Program (HP VSP)
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Park Community Advisory Council
The High Park Community Advisory Council (HPCAC) is a volunteer
group made up of a broad range of park users, including individuals
and organized groups.
The HPCAC provides public input on park policies, goals and objectives;
helps facilitate volunteer involvement in park initiatives; and
promotes public awareness and responsible stewardship of the park.
membership includes local ratepayer/residents associations, recreational
stakeholders, long-term interest groups, business/park entrepreneurs
and members-at-large from the community. Meetings are open to the
In turn, these
subcommittees sponsor a number of volunteer programs, including:
Park Volunteer Stewardship Program (VSP)
Volunteer Stewardship Program (VSP) began in 1996 with a goal: restore
the natural areas of High Park (54 hectares or 135 acres) to presettlement
conditions. Before European settlers arrived, the local environment
consisted of large areas of Black Oak Savannah and its related wildlife.
The VSP works with the City of Toronto to increase this now rare
and unique ecosystem.
The most visible
sign of VSP achievements is the Boulevard Beds around Grenadier
Restaurant Parking Lot, a thriving example of native plants.
To learn more
about the Oak Savannah ecosystem in High Park see the section on A
Brief History of High Park Black Oak Savannah Ecosystem (PDF).
For more information, visit High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program.
of VSP activities
volunteers take part in many activities throughout the year. There
is a lot of work to be done and we need a lot of help. We plant
native wildflowers, shrubs and grasses. On average the VSPs plant
3,000 plants a year and spend approximately 1,500 to 2,000 person-hours
working in the park. We also weed and cut down invasive and non-native
plants, collect native seeds in the fall, clean seeds and plant
them in the greenhouses as well as transplant seedlings in the winter
months. Over the years we monitor the results and take pictures
of our progress. There are other activities that take place through
the year such as our plant sales, social activities, meetings and
administration, as well as the occasional field trip and slide show.
See a chart about our
2003 activities (PDF).
See more pictures of VSP activities.
To further extend the restoration work of the VSP in the park an
Adopt-a-plot Program was launched in 1999. This program allows individuals
or groups of volunteers to adopt a plot within a designated area
and plant or seed them with native plants to help restore the site.
There are currently thirteen adopt-a-plots on the Tablelands between
the baseball diamonds and the Grenadier Restaurant, see map below.
Over the last few years as result of this program the diversity
of native plants has greatly increased in this area. Some of the
plants that have been re-established are Wild Lupines, Indian Grass,
Big and Little Bluestem and Butterfly Weed (HP Woodlands & Savannah
Management Plan Feb. 2002). See map (PDF) of the adopted plots.
In the year 2000, the VSP took over the Boulevard Beds, which are
located around the perimeter of the parking lot east of the Grenadier
Restaurant. In the beginning these beds were bare earth, now they
are a flourishing example of the Black Oak Savannah ecosystem we
are trying to establish in other areas of the park that are perhaps
not accessed as much by the public. Throughout the growing season
a multitude of colour can be seen - in the spring serviceberry trees
bloom white and smooth roses pink, in the summer there is blue hairy
beardtongue and orange butterfly weed and in the fall there are
yellow goldenrods and purple and white asters.
VSP native plant sales take place twice a year, once in the spring
and also at the Harvest Festival in October. By selling native plants
the VSP expands the borders of High Park when area residents grow
native plants in their yards. There are many advantages to growing
native plants. They are well suited to their natural habitat and
require less maintenance than ornamental cultivars. They have longer
blooming periods, they do not require organic matter or fertilizers,
they tend to withstand insect and disease attacks, they attract
more wildlife than ornamentals and they are drought tolerant once
For more information
on the benefits of growing native plants, examples of native plants
and their growing conditions, see May 2008 plant sale (PDF).
The 2009 spring VSP Native Plant Sale will take place Sunday May 3, 2009 from
11:00am–2:00pm in front of the Greenhouse.
European settlers arrived fire occurred naturally in grasslands
and oak savannah ecosystems as a result of lightening strikes. First
Nations people also used fire to clear land for agriculture. Fires
of natural origin strongly influence the course of plant succession,
many native grasses, wildflowers and oaks have become adapted to
and dependent on periodic fires for their survival. These native
plants flourish especially in spring when litter is burned releasing
nutrients and sunlight reaches the soil in early spring. Many exotic
species are not fire tolerant. When fire is suppressed the ecosystem
becomes a closed canopy forest and with dense shrubs and exotic
species. The first comprehensive prescribed burns in High Park occurred
in 2000 and 2001. In 2001 some of the VSP adopt-a-plots were included
in the burn. For more information on fire management in High Park
refer to the High Park Management Plan.
When we meet
Volunteer Stewards (VSPs) meet for hands-on events at 10:30am the first and
third Sundays of each month, year around (except for December) and for extra sessions as needed in spring and summer. Our first session in January is on the 18th. We meet at the east entrance of the Grenadier Restaurant
for all events except for the the talks in February and March at
the Howard Park Tennis Club. Events take place rain or shine. Events
run for about two and a half-hours, daylight permitting for the
evening events. Recommended attire for events is long pants and
closed-toe shoes. Attendance is not kept and you can leave an event
at any time. Come as often as you can we’re always happy to
see you. Above all have fun helping to restore the Park with a group
of like-minded and friendly volunteers. Escape from hectic city
living to a green oasis for a few hours and join us!
For event dates
and further information on the Volunteer Stewardship Program or the
High Park Community Advisory Council please see our website. You can also be added or removed from our email list by using the "E-Mail List Additions/Changes" form at the bottom of the home page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
contact the High Park Volunteer Stewardship Program, visit:
For meeting information:
Volunteer Stewardship Program
c/o High Park Community Advisory Council
P.O. Box 108, Swansea Town Hall
95 Lavinia Avenue
Toronto, Ontario M6S-3H9