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: Building 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.

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 and stakeholders 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 Barbara Hall 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 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 will be 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.

During this phase of the community engagement process, 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.

Anticipated Community Engagement Activities in this phase:

  • Community Workshop
  • Online engagement

Anticipated outcomes:

  • Confirmed Drivers of Change
  • Vision Statement
  • Design Principles
  • “Big Moves” for the park redesign

Updated Draft Drivers of Change

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, 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.

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.

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.

During 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.

Community Engagement Activities anticipated in this phase will be shared at a later date.

The anticipated phase outcome includes the selection of a 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.

Community Engagement Activities anticipated in this phase will be shared at a later date.

The anticipated phase outcome 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.