The City is improving Victoria Memorial Square, located at 10 Niagara St., near Portland Street. The park is a designated heritage site and is part of the Fort York National Historic Site and the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District. The park improvement will be developed with the involvement of the local community and stakeholders, with the goal of ensuring that park infrastructure and amenities support the park’s desired uses while respecting and enhancing its unique history.

  • Winter 2022: Hire a design team
  • Summer 2022 to Summer 2023: Community engagement and design development
  • Spring 2024: Hire a construction team
  • Summer 2024: Construction starts

The timeline is subject to change.

Level of Engagement

This project has been classified as a Collaborate project based on the International Association of Public Participation‘s Public Participation Spectrum. This means we aim to partner with the public, stakeholders and rightsholders in each aspect of the design process, including the development of design options and the identification of a preferred design.

Community Advisory Committee

A Community Advisory Committee (CAC) representing the diverse interests of the community of Victoria Memorial Square park users will be formed and will be engaged throughout the design process.

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This phase of the community engagement process started in April 2022 and included a stakeholder meeting, a resident’s workshop, and a community survey, and helped the project team to gain a better understanding of the issues and opportunities associated with the park. As an outcome of this phase, the team has developed a series of draft Drivers of Change, which are the factors driving the need for the park improvements.

Phase Outcome: Draft Drivers of Change

The draft Drivers of Change, which will be confirmed with the community in Phase 1B, are as follows.

A rich colonial history

Victoria Memorial Square is a unique park site with a rich cultural heritage that dates back to the founding of the city of York. It is part of the Fort York National Historic Site and the King-Spadina Heritage Conservation District and is the site of Toronto’s first settler cemetery, which includes burials of military personnel and their family members. There is an opportunity to further enhance the heritage of this site while bringing forward new heritage interpretations.

A rich Indigenous history

Victoria Memorial Square is a site steeped in colonial history, but the story does not start there. There is also a rich and ancient Indigenous history to the site that is tied to its adjacency to Taddle Creek and the former Lake Ontario shoreline, in addition to the roles of First Nations in the War of 1812. This presence is not adequately represented in the current space.

A growing and evolving neighbourhood

The neighbourhood surrounding the park has seen dramatic increases in population growth in recent years, thanks to new development. There is a need for the park to support changing demographics as well as intensified use in this rapidly-changing area of the city. This will mean making park improvements that allow for a wider range of uses at various times of the day, and that are durable, sustainable and can withstand high traffic usage patterns.

Out-of-balance park uses

As the community has grown around the park, the balance of users has changed. This has led to conflicts between user groups, including dogs and their owners, children and their caregivers, and others who use the space as a place to rest or hang out. There is a need for park improvements that enhance the existing park programs through the lenses of inclusivity, safety and accessibility to ensure that all park users are able to enjoy this public space.

Phase 1A Meetings and Events

September 2022

Online Survey

From August 30 to September 18, 2022, the project team ran a visioning survey to gather insights and ideas from the community about what they would like to see in the square in the future. In total, 753 people responded to the survey.

Download the survey summary.

June 2022

Resident’s Workshop

On June 15, 2022, the project team invited residents living along the perimeter of the park, including businesses and high-rises, to a virtual workshop being held as part of the community engagement process for the project. Nine residents attended, in addition to City staff and the Councillor’s office.

Download the summary report.

April 2022

Stakeholder Meeting

A meeting took place at the park with community stakeholders to discuss park issues. The project’s next steps include hiring a design team and the community engagement process.

During this phase of the community engagement process, the City will work with residents and stakeholders to define an overall vision for the park improvements, including a series of Design Principles which will guide the development of design options in Phase 2.

Anticipated Community Engagement Activities in this phase:

  • Community visioning survey
  • CAC design charrette

Anticipated phase outcomes:

  • Confirmed Drivers of Change
  • Vision Statement
  • Design Principles
  • Design Ideas to inform the development of design options

March 2023

Thought Exchange Activity

From February 16 to March 1, 2023, the project team ran an online thought exchange activity where participants were able to share their vision for the park and rate the ideas of others.

During this phase of the community engagement process, the City and its design consultant will work off the outcomes of Phase 1B to develop two design options (called concept options) for the park improvements. These will be presented to the community for feedback, with the input collected used to develop a preferred design for the park.

Anticipated Community Engagement Activities in this phase:

  • CAC Meeting
  • Community Open House
  • Design Options Community Survey

Anticipated phase outcomes include the Selection of Preferred Design Option.

During this phase of the community engagement process, the City will share the preferred design option to the community. Once the preferred design is confirmed, the project will move into the detail design phase, where the design team will finalize the preferred design by working through the technical details and developing detailed plans and drawings to be used by the construction contractor.

Anticipated Community Engagement Activities in this phase include a CAC Meeting.

Anticipated phase outcomes include the Refined preferred design.

The park currently includes a monument, playground and drinking fountain as well as several heritage features, open lawn areas and mature trees. The park’s historical significance and unique site constraints will be taken into consideration when planning the design. The park improvements may include:

  • Additional heritage interpretation elements
  • New social gathering spaces
  • Upgrade of existing pathways
  • New site furnishings (i.e. benches, chairs, seat walls and/or picnic tables)
  • Updated historical interpretive signage, including Indigenous history component, to be integrated with City’s new wayfinding system
  • General site improvements including upgrade to existing granite border/pathway, playground improvements, refresh of existing monuments
  • New planting features and trees
  • New grass
  • Lighting improvements
  • Potential integrated art feature

If a rezoning application is submitted for the property adjacent to Victoria Memorial Square, City staff will explore opportunities to expand the Square in consultation with the community.


The waterways surrounding the Great Lakes, Lake Ontario and what we now know as Toronto, have been occupied by Indigenous communities for thousands of years. Some of the First Nations that have inhabited and continue to inhabit these lands are the Anishinaabe peoples, including the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, the Huron Wendat, and the Haudenosaunee.

In 1783, Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe created Toronto’s first European cemetery. Simcoe’s infant daughter, Katherine, succumbed to fever in 1793 and was one of the first to be buried here. The final burial occurred in 1864, when the cemetery was full. The site was subsequently converted into public space known as Victoria Memorial Square and has been maintained by the City of Toronto as a public park since the 1880s.

In the late 2000s, several heritage features were added as part of a park improvement project. Features that exist in the park today include a narrow rectangular granite border on the lawn, which represents the footprint of the cemetery that contains approximately 400 burial sites and 17 of the original grave markers on the east side of the park.

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