The park design and development process is a dynamic one that can change significantly from project to project. The following outline provides a general overview of how this process generally unfolds:

There are two ways that a new park design or park redesign process is most commonly initiated:

A new park delivered as a condition of a development approval

In this situation, the new park is a condition imposed by the City on a developer as part of the approval process for a new development. In cases like these, the project is delivered via the Park Design/Landscape Architecture Unit of the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division through an agreement with the developer. The developer will in turn hire consultants to engage with all stakeholders and the public on the planning and design of the park, and then hire a contractor to build the park, all under the guidance of city staff.

A new park delivered through a planned capital project

In this situation, the project will be delivered through the Capital Projects section of the Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division (PFR) which hires consultants to engage with all stakeholders and the public on the planning and design of the park. PFR then hires contractors to build the park.

The project then continues along a similar path in phases 1 to 5.

In this phase, the City’s project team lays the groundwork for the upcoming project to be successful, which can take between six months to one year, depending on the complexity of the project.

This may include:

  • Undertaking an inventory and analysis, through which staff compile all relevant background information related to the site/area, including its history, demographics, area needs (for example, as outlined in the Facilities Master Plan), and site conditions assessment(s) such as asset inventory, understanding the site use, topographic surveys, environmental testing, geotechnical/hydrological testing, and archaeological investigations (as needed or when required).
  • Early engagement (pre-engagement) with the local Councillor, other staff, area stakeholders (Business Improvement Areas), the community, and/or Indigenous rights holders (as appropriate).
  • Request for Proposals (RFP) process to hire a designer and other services as needed (for example, public engagement consultant, heritage specialists, engineers). This includes the development of the RFP, its release to the market place, proposal review and evaluation, contract negotiation and award, and project start-up.

Phase 1 activity in the park may include survey crews gathering base information and confirming inventory of assets and trees (as needed). Consultants and staff may conduct site visits to confirm base information and survey results. The City may install signage to notify the public of the project and upcoming engagement events. For a park delivered through the development review process, these activities may not be visible, since the park is being delivered as part of a new development.

This phase typically takes between three months to a year to complete, depending on the size and complexity of the project. It begins with additional inventory and analysis of the site, completed by the park design consultant, in order to validate and/or expand on initial findings. Phase 2 is then divided into three sub-phases of work, with public consultation typically included in each:

Building the Vision

During this phase, the team works with the public to:

  • Confirm the site program
  • Develop a Vision for the site, including the site program
  • Develop a set of Design Principles to guide the design work
  • Develop a series of Big Moves to provide design direction to guide preliminary design work based on inventory and analysis and input from the community

Exploring Options

  • During this phase, the team uses the community feedback received in the first phase to develop preliminary designs, sometimes referred to as concept designs
  • The options are then presented to the public for feedback

Setting the Direction

During this phase, the team incorporates public feedback from the previous phase to finalize a preferred design, which is then shared back to the public

Phase 2 activity in the park may include consultant site visits to ground-truth design ideas, or survey crews gathering data and information. The City will typically install signage to notify the public of the upcoming engagement events and may also host engagement events in the park. For a park delivered through the development review process, these activities may not be visible, since the park is being delivered as part of a new development.


This phase can take between three months to one year to complete depending on the size and complexity of the project. In it, the park design consultant, led by the City staff team (and the Developer if delivered through the development process) works to prepare detailed drawings and other work based on the preferred design option from Phase 2. These may include:

  • Plans, elevations, sections, and perspectives of the park design and any buildings within
  • A summary of materials, finishes, and equipment
  • A stormwater management plan and other environmental components
  • Planting and tree planting plans
  • Cost estimates
  • Additional design and study work-related to project-specific requirements and approvals, as required, including, in some cases, presentation to the Design Review Panel, the Accessibility Advisory Committee and others

Phase 3 activity in the park is limited because most of the work is going on behind the scenes. The City typically installs signage to inform the public of the design for the future park and indicates general timelines when construction start is anticipated to start.

Phase 4 can take between three months to one year to complete depending on the size and complexity of the project. In this phase, the park design consultant, led by City staff (and the Developer if delivered through the development process) prepares all contract working drawings and specifications as well as documents needed to issue the project for tender. Issuing a project for tender, or issuing a Request for Quotations (RFQ), is the process of collecting bids from qualified contractors to build the park. The City or its development partner (following review and approval by the City) issues the project for tender, reviews and evaluates all bids received and awards the construction contract to the successful contractor.

During this phase, there continues to be lots a lot of work going on behind the scenes with limited site activity. The City (or Developer) will install signage to notify the public when construction is expected to start.

During this phase, which can take between six months and more than a year depending on the size and complexity of the project, the park is built by the successful contractor under the supervision of City staff and the park design consultant (and the Developer if delivered through the development process).

Construction activity on the park site usually begins with

  • the installation of construction fencing
  • updates to site signage to notify the public about the updated construction schedule (if timelines have changed)
  • tree protection fencing may also be required and the contractor may install a site trailer.

A portion of the space will be dedicated for construction materials if needed. The City reviews and approves the construction mobilization plan in advance and monitors compliance through construction.

A park delivered through the development process would look different since the park will be delivered as part of the development and most often be constructed within the limits defined by the construction hoarding of the development. Construction proceeds in a logical sequence defined by the contractor and is overseen by the City and design consultant in compliance with Ministry Health and Safety requirements and City bylaws.

Once completed, the park is transferred to the City for ongoing maintenance and operation. A standard warranty period applies and a walk-through with City staff, the park design consultant, and the contractor, (and Developer, if applicable) is typically conducted when the project is completed, and then again one year after the park has been accepted by the City.