The City is collaborating with the local Church-Wellesley Village community to develop a new vision and Master Plan for Barbara Hall Park. The objectives of the park vision and Master Plan are to enhance the park’s function for everyday use and, as a central gathering space for the City’s LGBTQ2S+ community, a space capable of accommodating passive and active uses, special events, moments of reflection, and to improve park maintenance and safety.

  • Winter 2023:  Pre-Engagement with key stakeholders
  • Spring to Fall 2023: Phase 1 Community Engagement: Towards a Vision
  • Fall 2023: Hire a design team
  • Winter 2024: Phase 2 Community Engagement: Exploring Design Options
  • Summer 2024: Phase 3 Community Engagement: Setting the Direction (final design option)

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 Public Participation Spectrum. This means we aim to partner with the public and stakeholders in each aspect of the design process, including the development of design options and the identification of a preferred design.

Sign Up for Updates

Sign Up Now

Sign up for updates related to the Barbara Hall Park Improvements or unsubscribe from the mailing list.

This project has a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) made up of representatives of the Church-Wellesley Village Community. The CAC’s mandate is to provide a forum for feedback, guidance, and advice to the project team at key decision points during the community engagement process. The CAC will meet approximately one to two times per phase of the project. The CAC is not a decision-making body and does not speak on behalf of the entire community. Members of the CAC include representatives of the following organizations:

  • The 519
  • Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association
  • Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area
  • Progress Place
  • Progress Place resident representative
  • Rainbow Seniors Program participant representative
  • Gerstein Centre
  • Circle of Cedar Singers
  • Inner City Family Health Team
  • ACT Toronto
  • Pride Toronto Board
  • Barbara Hall Park Dog Park Association
  • Two additional Members-at-Large

Download the CAC Terms of Reference.

This phase of the community engagement process started in January 2023 and included stakeholder interviews to better understand the issues and opportunities associated with the park. Interviewed stakeholder groups included:

  • Parks operations staff
  • The 519
  • Progress Place
  • Church Wellesley Neighbourhood Association
  • Church-Wellesley Village Business Improvement Area
  • Residents of Monteith Street
  • Toronto Police Services

Phase Outcome: Draft Drivers of Change

To review the draft Drivers of Change and to learn more about the pre-engagement phase, download the summary report.

The draft Drivers of Change were updated in August 2023 and confirmed with the community in Phase 1. Visit the Community Engagement Phase 1: Building a Vision section to review the updated draft Drivers of Change.

This phase of the community engagement process started in May 2023. During this phase, the City is working with residents and stakeholders to define a renewed overall vision for the park, including a series of Design Principles and Big Moves which will guide the development of design options in Phase 2.

This section is organized as follows:

  • Phase outcomes
    • Finalized Drivers of Change
    • Draft Vision Statement
    • Draft Guiding Principles
    • Draft Big Moves
  • Community Engagement Meetings and Events

A community engagement summary will be posted when this phase is completed.

Phase Outcomes To Date

Finalized Drivers of Change

These are the opportunities and challenges driving the need for a change to the park’s design.

A place with diverse users and needs

Barbara Hall Park has diverse users with varied needs. In many ways, the space is expected to be “everything to everyone”: a space for the everyday, while also being a place for reflection, mourning and celebration, and where people come to access the services of the 519 Community Centre. In the past, the park accommodated all of these uses quite well, but this has not been the case more recently. There is a lack of cohesion between the different park elements, and the park struggles to accommodate the huge number of users who visit during the annual Green Space Festival.

A green heart in need of improvement

The park is the green heart of the Church-Wellesley Village – a highly prized oasis of green within the community that is also its central gathering place. The raised lawn, garden beds, and canopy trees are all highly valued by nearby residents. However, the park lacks an appropriate range of seating, is not properly lit, and the pathways are not wide enough to accommodate heavy use. The programmed spaces present maintenance challenges that the community would like improved. The park has a lack of flat surfaces which make it difficult to program.

A place for reflection and grief

As the home of two significant LGBTQ2S+ memorials, the Toronto AIDS Memorial and the Trans Memorial, Barbara Hall Park is an important community space for grief, reflection, and activism. There is a strong desire to maintain these memorials as places where people can grieve or reflect quietly. However, there is a feeling that these memorials are not properly or clearly identified or maintained and they are sometimes vandalized. In addition, the AIDS Memorial does not resonate strongly with HIV-positive youth, who feel it should also inspire hope and celebrate the lives of those people who are currently living with HIV.

A place where people sometimes feel unsafe

The lack of clear sightlines throughout the park and the presence of dark corners present safety challenges and often attract undesirable activities, like drug use and drug dealing. Particular areas of the park, including the area to the south of the 519 and the northeast corner of the park, lack good lighting and/or programming and can feel particularly unsafe.

Draft Vision Statement

A vision statement is a short description of the ideal future park. It inspires everyone towards a common understanding of the project’s overall goals. The draft vision for Barbara Hall park is:

A revitalized Barbara Hall Park will be an inclusive and welcoming space that is the green focal point of the City’s 2SLGBTQ+ community in the Church-Wellesley Village. As home of the AIDS and Trans Memorials, the park will offer calm and quiet space for reflection and mourning of those lost, while also celebrating the history and resilience of the 2SLGBTQ+ community through heritage interpretation, art and culture. The park design will ensure it is a place where everyone in the surrounding community feels welcome and comfortable while centering needs of the most vulnerable. Barbara Hall Park will be a highly accessible, functional and cohesive space that is easy to program and is animated throughout the year with community-focused programming for people of all ages, ethnicities, abilities, and incomes. It will be a place to gather, celebrate, and heal.

Draft Guiding Principles

Guiding principles are high-level directions that reflect the community’s most important values and ideas for how the park should look and feel. They help guide how the park should be designed so that the vision statement can be achieved. The draft guiding principles for Barbara Hall Park are:

  • Balance: The park design should balance the community need for a welcoming green oasis and community events.
  • Animate: The park design should improve the existing park’s programming and provide opportunities for additional daily animation.
  • Functional: The park design should enhance the park’s circulation and provide a variety of spaces for seating and passive use.
  • Durable: The park design should incorporate site furnishings, surface materials, plantings, lighting and waste management that can be easily and routinely maintained.
  • Accessible: The park design should surpass an AODA-level of accessibility.
  • Equitable: The park design should promote equity and support the existing and future community outreach/care programs that exist there.
  • Celebrate: The park design should celebrate 2SLGBTQ+ communities.
  • Commemorate: The park design should continue to be a place to reflect on and mourn the lives that have been lost to HIV while also celebrating people living with HIV today.

Draft Big Moves

Big moves are the main priorities for the design of the park. They are specific directions to the design team that flow from the vision and principles and help to make them a reality. In no particular order, the draft big moves for Barbara Hall Park are:

  1. Add a small cafe/retail space to animate the park.
  2. Add washroom facilities.
  3. Add site furnishings that will contribute to the park’s animation (i.e. more seating, games tables, fitness station).
  4. Remove the stage to improve sightlines and increase flexibility.
  5. Improve the prominence and accessibility of both Memorials.
  6. Enhance the AIDS Memorial.
  7. Incorporate new elements in the park that celebrate people living with HIV.
  8. Create a sense of arrival in front of the Trans Memorial through improved paving and landscaping.
  9. Incorporate heritage interpretation to tell the story of the park and the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto.
  10. Improve the Dogs Off-Leash Area.

Community Engagement Meetings and Events

Fall 2023

AIDS Memorial Community Workshops

The project team hosted an in-person community workshop on November 16 and an online community workshop on November 23 to discuss how the AIDS Memorial should be handled in the park redesign and to explore the community’s needs and expectations more deeply.

A summary of the workshops will be posted on this page.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting 2

On October 12, the project team met with the CAC to share the draft vision, guiding principles, and big moves for review and feedback.

Summer 2023

During the summer of 2023 the City continued to engage with a number of stakeholders through private meetings and small focus group sessions, in order to advance the draft vision, guiding principles, and big moves. These included conversations with:

  • Vulnerable and/or street-involved park users
  • HIV-positive youth group participants (through ACT Toronto)
  • Gay Men’s Coffee Night participants (through ACT Toronto)
  • The Trans Women’s Association

May 2023

Community Workshop

On May 15, 2023, the project team held a community workshop at the 519 Community Centre to develop a new vision for Barbara Hall Park. In addition to the local Councillor and project team, more than 40 community members participated in the workshop.

Download the workshop summary.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting 1

On May 9, the project team met with the CAC for the first time and were given an opportunity to meet one another, share why the park is important to them,  and learn about the process.

Online Thought Exchange Activity

From April 21 to May 7, 2023, an online thought exchange activity collected 341 thoughts and 7,926 ratings from 281 participants on the vision for the park improvements.

Review a summary of the results in an interactive report, including the top thoughts and themes.

In this phase of the community engagement process, the City and its design consultant will work off the outcomes of Phase 1 to develop two to three 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.

The anticipated community engagement activities in this phase include:

  • Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings
  • A community design charette to develop design options
  • An online survey

The anticipated outcome of this phase is the selection of a preferred design option.

In this phase of the community engagement process, the City will share the preferred design option with 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.

The anticipated community engagement activities in this phase include:

  • Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings
  • An online survey
  • An Open House

The anticipated outcome of this phase is the refined preferred design.

Barbara Hall Park currently includes the following amenities:

  • A splash pad (fenced)
  • A dogs off-leash area (fenced)
  • Seating areas
  • Open lawn
  • A stage
  • Toronto AIDS Memorial
  • Trans Memorial

The 519 Community Centre is also located within the park. They host events in the park throughout the year, including their signature Green Space Festival, held during Pride Week.

The park is not currently working well, with maintenance, safety and other issues that impact its enjoyable use by the community. The City has begun a process to develop a renewed vision for the park that addresses these concerns. This process, which will be rooted in collaborative community engagement, will lead to the development of a preferred plan to revitalize the park, including cost estimates that will be used to secure future budget for construction.