Parks, Forestry and Recreation provides a wide variety of leisure and recreation opportunities that are key contributors to the quality of life for all Torontonians while operating and maintaining parks, playgrounds, sports fields and facilities, along with trails, forests, and ravines to support diverse needs for active and healthy lifestyles.

Budget Notes

Parks, Forestry and Recreation brings together all of Toronto’s diverse communities on a common ground. We provide a wide variety of leisure and recreational opportunities that include all Toronto residents. In our centres, parks and playing fields, we encourage communities to help themselves, and aid Torontonians to become the best they can be. We measure our success by
quality, satisfaction and community development outcomes. Our parks, playing fields and recreation centres and amenities along with our trails, forests, meadows, marshes, and ravines, will be beautiful, clean, safe, and accessible, meeting all our communities’ needs

View the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Program Map in greater detail.

2018 Budget Summary

The total cost to deliver these services to Toronto residents is $467.984 million gross and $322.116 million net.

Through base reductions, operational efficiencies and increased revenues, the Program is able to fully offset $5.073 million in operating base budget pressures resulting from the opening of new parks and recreation facilities, salary and benefit increases, and inflationary pressures, while maintaining the 2017 service levels for 2018. The increase of $1.775 million is fully directed to new and enhanced services priorities mainly to expand services in parks and recreation facilities.

Fast Facts

  • Over 1.1 million hours of Instructional and Leisure Drop-in Recreation programs with 10.8 million participant visits.
  • 4,405 hectares of maintained parkland with 1.4 million booked permit hours.
  • 8 Blue Flag beaches.
  • 17,000 Toronto Island ferry round-trips carrying 1.3 million passengers per year
  • 509,644 Urban Forestry work orders including 120,000 trees planted each year.
  • 650,000 recreation facilities bookings.


  • Total Recreation Service Hours increased by 1.5% between 2015 and 2017 as a result of new major recreation facilities openings.
  • Future year service hours are projected to increase by approximate 1% per year due to the full implementation of programs at the York Recreation Centre and new capital investments to enable community recreation to increase service citywide.

Key Service Deliverables for 2018

Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers a diverse range of leisure and recreation programming while operating and maintaining its physical and natural assets.

The 2018 Operating Budget enables the Program to:

  • Deliver instructional and drop-in recreation programs for all ages that teach a new skill or improve the competency level in a variety of activities including swimming, skating, summer and holiday camps, fitness, sports and arts.
  • Provide self-directed recreational opportunities through permits for recreational facilities such as ice rinks, facilities, parks and sports fields to individuals and community groups.
  • Provide clean, safe and well-maintained green space, park amenities and beaches including the management of natural areas through restoration and preservation activities.
  • Operate two animal attractions.
  • Provide transportation services to the Toronto Island Park through Ferry Operations.
  • Enhance the urban forest asset through investment in new trees, protection and maintenance of the existing asset, and planning for the future.
  • Participate in the development of key policies to guide parks and recreation system enhancement, including the TOcore study with City Planning, Parkland Strategy, and Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.
  • Modernize and transform business processes by leveraging technology solutions including the replacement of the Recreation Registration and Permitting system, a new work order management system and an effective on-line self-serve channel for customers.

Our Key Issues and Priority Actions

  • Full implementation of the Swim to Survive initiative and developing a roadmap for a renewed Recreation Service Plan.
    • Growing the number of recreation spaces to meet increasing demand for instructional programs. Waitlisted spaces have grown over the past three years by 74%, now at 198,000.
    • New recreation spaces in summer camps, learn to swim and sport programs are necessary to address current and future demand resulting from population growth.
  • The 2013-2017 Parks Service Plan aims to maintain quality parks and improve parks spaces.
    • Increasing demand for parkland and its associated amenities from new development
  • Urban Forestry continues to enhance the urban forest assets through investment in new trees, protection and maintenance of existing assets and planning for the future.
    • Continue to address the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation (until 2019) while maintaining core service levels.

2018 Operating Budget Highlights

  • The 2018 Operating Budget of $467.984 million gross and $322.116 million net provides funding for:
    • Community Recreation to deliver programming to 10.8 million participant visits.
    • Parks to maintain 4,413 hectares.
    • Urban Forestry to complete 535,972 work orders including 120,000 tree plantings.
  • This represents an increase of 0.8% to the 2016 Approved Net Budget through measures taken based on the following:
    • Annualization of Council Approved efficiencies from 2017 ($0.609 million)
    • Base expenditure reductions ($1.094 million)
    • Efficiency Savings ($0.302 million)
    • Revenue Changes ($3.677 million)
  • The Program is able to fully offset the operating budget pressure of $5.073 million net.
  • New and enhanced funding of $9.435 million gross and $1.775 million net.

Parks, Forestry and Recreation provides a wide range of leisure and recreation opportunities to Toronto residents while operating and maintaining approximately $3.026 billion worth of assets.

The primary focus of the 2018-2027 Capital Budget and Plan totalling $1.312 billion is to preserve and protect existing assets in a state of good repair while meeting the demands of an expanding and changing City through service improvements and leveraging opportunities for growth in service delivery. Specifically, SOGR funding of $659.211 million is provided for major repair and rehabilitation of parks and recreation facilities.

The 10-Year Capital Plan provides funding for investments in Service Improvement, including for park development and playground enhancements, and major IT business transformation projects for program registration and work management.  Growth related projects result in new facilities including the construction of the Bessarion Community Centre and the Canoe Landing Community Centre.

The 10-Year Capital Plan will increase future year Operating Budgets by a total of $15.239 million net over the 2018 – 2027 period, primarily for the ongoing operating costs of 5 new community recreation facilities and maintenance for new park developments.

Where the money goes

The 2018 – 2027 Capital Budget and Plan totalling $1.312 billion provides funding of:

  • $3.272 million for legislated land acquisition projects
  • $659.211 million to continue the state of good repair projects for parks, facilities, and recreation infrastructure, including community centres, arenas, trails and pathways.
  • $333.766 million to improve assets that support the delivery of recreational services including park development, playgrounds/waterplay areas and the ferry boat replacement.
  • $315.300 million in Growth related initiatives including the design and construction of 6 new community centres, new park developments and the acquisition of land for future parkland and recreational areas.

Where the money comes from

The 10-Year Capital Plan requires:

  • Debt funding of $707.075 million (53.9%), reflecting an increase in debt funding of $22.864 million above the 2017-2026 debt funding total to help address the state of good repair backlog.
  • Additional capital financing of $228.807 million (17.4%) to be provided from reserve/reserve funds, primarily from parkland cash-in-lieu reserve funds.
  • Funding from Development Charges ($248.542 million or 19.0%) for growth and service improvement projects.
  • Federal/Provincial funding ($0.370 million) and Other Revenue (Section 37, Section 42 Alternate Rate cash-in-lieu, and Section 45) totalling $126.755 million or 9.7%

State of Good Repair Backlog

The 10-Year Capital Plan’s spending on State of Good Repair is $659.211 million.  However, due to aging infrastructure, the accumulated backlog will continue to grow from $457.691 million or 15.1% of asset value in 2018 to an anticipated 19.8% of asset value or $600.473 million by 2027. A growing backlog of $145.975 million is not addressed by the current plan.

Our Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • Addressing State of Good Repair needs and reducing the accumulated backlog continues to be a priority. Undertaking regular condition assessments to monitor the backlog are critical to managing this need and planning future estimates.
    • The 10-Year Capital Plan includes funding of $659.211 million for SOGR to help curb the growing backlog of $457.491 million in 2018.
  • Recommitting to investments in projects that support the delivery of the 20 Year Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.
    • The 10-Year Capital Plan includes $251.376 million for projects recommended in the Plan.
  • Meeting the compliance standards under Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (2005) (AODA).
    • Parks, Forestry and Recreation will continue with the multi-year implementation strategy to ensure City-owned facilities comply with the Accessibility Design Guidelines (ADG) by 2025.

2018 Capital Budget Highlights

The 2018 Capital Budget for Parks, Forestry and Recreation of $137.765 million, excluding carry forward funding, will:

  • Continue the construction of the Wellesley Community Centre Pool ($7.019 million).
  • Continue with major business transformation projects including the Work Management System ($3.423 million) and the Registration, Permitting & Licensing System ($2.994 million) projects.
  • Continue with the design and construction of the Canoe Landing Community Centre ($5.197 million); the Bessarion Community Centre ($6.381 million); and North Toronto Memorial Community Centre Improvements ($2.000 million).
  • Complete Queens Park North Park ($3.962 million); Ramsden Park ($1.864 million); and the College Park Artificial Ice Rink ($1.900 million) projects.
  • Continue with the Toronto Island Ferry Replacement ($2.500 million).
  • Address critical waterfront rehabilitation work due to high lake effect flooding ($2.000 million).

Parks, Forestry and Recreation 2018 Budget Infographic
Parks, Forestry and Recreation Infographic