The Toronto Island Park Master Plan is being co-created with Indigenous rights holders, local stakeholders and the general public. The ideas, thoughts and other feedback we receive during the engagement process feeds directly into the planning process and helps to shape the Master Plan.

This page documents progress on the Master Plan and includes engagement summaries, reports and other updates on the project. The information shared is not final and will be updated as we continue to receive feedback.

Follow our progress as we build the Toronto Island Park Master Plan together.

While we aim to provide fully accessible content, there is no text alternative available for some of the content on this site. If you require alternate formats or need assistance understanding our maps, drawings, or any other content, please contact the project engagement team at 647-427–5331.

The existing space used for events at Hanlan’s Point consists of an open lawn area that has been permitted over the last 15 years for a wide range of events, from running races and charity fundraisers to larger music events, like Electric Island. The idea to improve or formalize this space in the Master Plan came through community and stakeholder engagement with both the public as well as staff and event organizers and was intended to balance and improve existing uses and visitor experience with impacts to the environment and adjacent habitat areas, programs and uses.

The draft Master Plan included a demonstration plan of what improving or formalizing this event space might look like by shaping the lawn into a naturalized amphitheatre, framing the space with additional trees and providing access to power so that generators, fuel trucks and temporary infrastructure don’t have to be transported to/from the Island for every event. No physical structures were ever proposed and the images presented were for illustrative purposes only and did not represent an actual design.

In response to community concerns about this proposal, the City held a virtual public meeting on Thursday, February 23rd attended by as many as 300 people and launched a virtual conversation through ThoughtExchange, which over 2,000 people have participated in so far. The community’s response has been overwhelming in its opposition to the proposed event space. In addition, we have heard that:

  • The Island Master Plan needs to focus the importance of Hanlan’s as a historically significant safe space for the 2SLGBTQ+ community within a new lens
  • The Master Plan needs to prioritize the safety of the 2SLGBTQ+ community
  • The Master Plan should prioritize revealing and celebrating the history of Hanlan’s as a space where the 2SLGBTQ+ community has gathered

As a result of this feedback, the Master Plan team announced at a community workshop held on February 27th at the 519 that it would be removing the recommendation related to a permanent event space at Hanlan’s from the Master Plan. This means that the status quo will continue, meaning events already scheduled for this year will proceed. Over the next year or so, the City commits to engaging Hanlan’s users and the wider Island community on an Events Strategy for Toronto Island Park, which will identify the preferred types and sizes of events that are appropriate for the Island and are in alignment with the Vision, Values, Guiding Principles and key recommendations that have been established by the Toronto Island Master Plan.

Moving forward, the Toronto Island Master Plan will also include a new lens, currently called “Centering Queer Heritage, History and Community-Well Being”, which will recognize the importance of Hanlan’s to the queer community and identify actions to prioritize and support community safety, which might include directions related to future work (for example, documenting the cultural heritage significance of the Island – and Hanlan’s in particular – to the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Toronto and beyond).

Presentations and summary reports from all public engagement opportunities will be posted here in reverse chronological order.

Phase 3

November 2023

Hanlan’s Point Beach Working Group

This working group is being established to help shape the future of Hanlan’s Point Beach.

The Hanlan’s Point Working Group will consist of up to 20 participants, including regular beach users, beach advocates, and representatives of organizations related to the beach. The Working Group will include a diverse range of Hanlan’s Beach users, with representatives from across the 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum, nudist and heterosexual communities who use the beach, people of different ages and abilities, and people who are a part of equity-deserving communities.

The Working Group will meet regularly to discuss issues related to the Beach and the long-term implementation of the Toronto Island Master Plan. Meetings will typically include a presentation or update from City staff and will be conducted as plenary or small group discussions.

Exactly how the Working Group will function will be determined with Group members through a collaborative process to develop Terms of Reference.

The application period closed on November 26, 2023. All applicants will be notified if they have been successful or unsuccessful by December 4. The first meeting is set to take place on December 13.

A summary of the meeting and Terms of Reference will be posted when available.

August 25 to September 24, 2023

Online Survey

An online survey collected feedback on the outcomes of the Hanlan’s Point Beach community engagement process. The survey was intended to report back on “What We Heard” through Hanlan’s Point-specific conversations and to illustrate how the project team incorporated this feedback into the Draft Master Plan. This survey was also intended to assess the community’s satisfaction with the outcomes of the engagement process.

February to March 2023

Hanlan’s Point Beach Community Engagement

In response to concerns regarding the Toronto Island Park Draft Master Plan and ideas proposed for Hanlan’s Point, the project team hosted in-person and virtual events between February and March 2023 to gather community input from 2SLGBTQ+ communities and Hanlan’s Point Beach users. These events included:

  • A Hanlan’s Point Beach Community Workshop on February 27 (in person) and March 9 (virtually)
  • A thought exchange activity related to creating an event space on the lawn at Hanlan’s Point which was available from February 23 to March 12

Feedback from these engagements included:

  • Opposition to the proposed formalized event space at Hanlan’s.
  • Concerns for the safety of queer communities and the loss of queer spaces.
  • A desire to elevate the queer significance and history of Hanlan’s.
  • Calls to protect beach ecology.

In response to the community’s concerns, the City:

  • Removed the proposal to formalize the existing event space on the lawn at Hanlan’s Point from the Draft Master Plan.
  • Added a new Master Plan lens called “Honouring Queer Significance”. This is a change from the originally communicated “Centring Queer Heritage, Safety and Community Wellbeing”. The change was made to simplify the title.
  • Designated the new beach and sand dunes south of Hanlan’s Point as part of Hanlan’s Point beach, so that the beach now officially stretches from the Airport all the way to Gibraltar Point.
  • Designated the entire beach from the airport to Gibraltar Point as Clothing Optional to help alleviate crowding and improve user safety.
  • Negotiated a change in venue with the organizers of Electric Island.
  • Erected two Progress Pride flags to delineate the historically queer section of the Beach.
  • Erected new signage identifying Hanlan’s Point Beach as a historically queer space.
  • Erected new fencing along Beach Road between the north and south sections of the beach where the impacts of erosion are most prevalent to prevent park users from attempting to access the beach there.

Download the engagement summary report.

November 2022

Open House

On Wednesday, November 30, 2022, from 5:30 to 8:00 pm, the City hosted an open house at Canoe Landing Community Recreation Centre. Over 80 community members attended, including some members of the project’s Community Advisory Committee and the Ward 10 – Spadina–Fort York City Councillor.

Download the meeting summary.

Download information panels:

Phase 2

August 2022

Summer Pop-Up Events

On August 13, 2022, the project team held a series of pop-ups across seven locations on the Island to share information and key ideas about the Master Plan. Each location focused on different topics and ideas related to different areas of the Island, including Indigenous placekeeping, Island transportation, Environmentally Sensitive Areas, wayfinding and others.

Download the:

March 2022

Open House

On March 1, a virtual open house was conducted using a drop-in format. Participants were able to download materials ahead of time and look through the proposed ideas and actions in the Preliminary Demonstration Plan before joining breakout rooms to chat with the project team.

Download the main open house presentation.

Each room shared ideas from one of five themes:

Deep Dives

From March 3 to 24, 2022, the project team hosted a series of Deep Dive workshops with the goal of going into further detail on specific topics from the Preliminary Demonstration Plan. The deep dives were split into the following themes:

Download the Deep Dive summary.

February 2022

Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

On Wednesday, February 16, 2022, the project team hosted the third CAC meeting.  Representatives from approximately 20 on-island and community organizations, waterfront organizations, and city-wide organizations participated. The purpose of this meeting was to share and discuss the Preliminary Toronto Island Park Demonstration Plan, including the proposed ideas and actions for each of the plan’s lenses.

Download the meeting summary.

December 2021

Forum: Towards Belonging

On December 9, over 100 people joined the project’s second virtual forum event, Towards Belonging. The event invited community and thought leaders, artists and experts to discuss the concept of ‘belonging’ in public spaces and most importantly, how we might be able to embed this thinking into the Toronto Island Master Plan to create a park that is truly open, accessible and welcoming of all.

November 2021

MCFN Virtual Site Walk

On November 19, the City of Toronto hosted a Placekeeping Dialogue with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation for the Toronto Islands Park Master Plan. The meeting included participants from the MCFN Culture and Events Staff as well as Michi Saagiig Elders and knowledge holders. The purpose of the meeting was to provide a visual overview of the park, present the placekeeping ideas within the context of the existing park spaces and seek input and feedback on these ideas. The meeting was held in lieu of an in-person park visit, which has been tentatively postponed to the Spring of 2022 due to ongoing concerns with the Covid-19 pandemic.

October 2021

Focus Groups and Targeted Discussions

From October 20 to December 6, 202, the project team hosted 12 dialogues with key communities, City staff and Island stakeholders to present emerging ideas. The goal of these meetings was to vet ideas, ensure ideas align with other initiatives and strategies, and overall ensuring the project is on the right track. Conversations included:

Focus Groups:

Targeted Discussions:

  • Artscape
  • Boating Mooring and Waterfront Access
  • Centreville
  • Hanlan’s Point Beach
  • Heritage
  • Infrastructure
  • Island as a Natural Resource
  • Island Partners
  • Island Programs and Activation
  • Island Tourism
  • Marine Strategy

September 2021

Disability Steering Committee

On September 28, the project team met with the City’s Disability Steering Committee for a project update and to workshop some emerging ideas around accessibility. Some of the themes discussed included: wayfinding and information, accessible pathways, staff support, sensory considerations and water/beach access.

August 2021

Youth Ambassador Pop-ups

Over 150 young people from across Toronto were engaged through a series of in-person and online pop-up events designed and led by the Toronto Island Master Plan Youth Ambassador team. The team of 10 Ambassadors ranged in age from 15 – 27 and collectively spoke nine different languages. The team worked together throughout the summer to design and deliver events that engaged their peers and communities in the Toronto Island Master Plan’s Big Ideas.

Download the summary report.

Eat, Play, Explore Survey

This survey specifically focused on current offerings at the Island including transportation, food and attractions, and what amenities and experiences park visitors would like to have access to in the future. The survey was open from August 4th to the 16th and received 1500 responses.

A summary report will be posted here once it is available.

July 2021

Big Ideas Public Workshop

Over 100 people attended the second virtual public workshop to provide feedback on the proposed Big Ideas gathered during Phase 1 of public engagement. This event included an overview about the Master Plan, an update on Phase 1 outcomes, and a presentation on the proposed Big Ideas. Discussions focussed on four main themes: Environment; Visitor Experience; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; and History, Culture and Storytelling.

Download the Big Ideas Public Workshop Summary Report.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

For their second meeting, the CAC was joined by the City’s Technical Advisory Committee to discuss and co-develop the Big Ideas the emerged from Phase 1 of the public engagement process. In joining the two committees for this meeting, the goal was to have City staff collaborate with members of the public in vetting the Big Ideas and provide valuable insight on feasibility.

Download the July 2021 Community Advisory Committee:

June 2021

Big Ideas EngageTO

Through a City of Toronto digital platform, we invited members of the public to review, rate, and comment on preliminary Big Ideas from the Master Plan as well as to submit Big Ideas they thought would bring our collective vision to life. In total we collected over 140 ideas, 75,000 ratings and 900 comments were received from May 27 to June 20, 2021

Download the Big Ideas Summary Report.

Phase 1

Phase 1: Towards a Vision focused on developing a collective vision, values and guiding principles to guide the development of the Toronto Island Master Plan. The What We Heard Summary Report consolidates insights and outcomes from all engagement activities and tools conducted in this phase.

Download the What We Heard: Phase 1 Summary Report.

April 28, 2021

Forum: Indigenous Placekeeping

Over 300 people joined the virtual Indigenous Placekeeping Forum to listen and learn about Indigenous placekeeping. The event included an opening invocation, an Elders and knowledge-holders panel and presentations on perspectives on Indigenous placekeeping.

Indigenous placekeeping is an approach to design which recognizes the land as a living being first and considers our responsibilities now and in the future. Indigenous placekeeping thinks beyond our immediate benefits and defines our relationship with all living things and how they work together. Indigenous placekeeping is being considered in the Master Plan process.

March 17 to April 9, 2021

The Visioning Survey

The online Visioning Survey asked participants to provide insights on their Toronto Island Park experiences (before the COVID-19 pandemic) and how they would like to experience it in the future. Over 5,000 responses were received.

Download the Survey Summary Report.

Interactive Map

An Interactive Map on Social Pinpoint allowed participants to share their experiences and ideas and rate what others have said. The online map was visited by over 4,000 people and received approximately 800 comments and thousands of data points.

Download the Social Pinpoint Synthesis Report.

Engagement Toolkit

Participants who preferred to engage offline were able to download or receive a printed engagement toolkit and prepaid return envelope.

A summary report will be posted once it is available.

April 7, 2021

Public Visioning Workshop

The City hosted a virtual Public Visioning Workshop to invite participants to explore what the future of Toronto Island Park could look like. The event included an overview of the Toronto Island Park Master Plan process, preliminary outcomes from pre-engagement, project updates from the City’s staff and DTAH (landscape architect for the Toronto Island Park Master Plan), and a question-and-answer session followed by interactive discussions.

Download the Public Visioning Workshop summary report.

March 28 to 31, 2021

Indigenous Focus Groups

The project team held a series of workshops with specific Indigenous communities, including women, youth and Two Spirit people. During these focus groups, participants shared their thoughts, ideas, vision and priorities for the Toronto Islands.

Download the Indigenous Engagement Summary Report.

March 17, 2021

Launch Ceremony

The City and community and Indigenous partners formally launched the Toronto Island Park Master Plan and public engagement process in a virtual Launch Ceremony. Over 250 people tuned in to watch an invocation and blessing by a Mississauga Elder, hear from City and Indigenous leaders and learn about the Toronto Island Park Master Plan.

February 2021

Indigenous Placemaking Advisory Circle (IPAC)

Participants at the IPAC meeting shared their thoughts, ideas, vision and priorities for the Toronto Islands. The IPAC is convened by the City’s Indigenous Affairs Office and comprises of 10-15 fifteen individuals representing a range of Indigenous organizations and perspectives.

Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN)

Participants at the first MCFN meeting shared their thoughts, ideas, vision and priorities for the Toronto Islands. The meeting was attended by representatives of the MCFN, Elders, knowledge keepers and others who represent the Michi Saagiig perspective.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC)

Participants at the first CAC meeting shared their thoughts, ideas, vision and priorities for the Toronto Islands. The CAC comprises of waterfront-based, city-wide, and Indigenous communities that have a mandate or interest that connects to the Toronto Island Master Plan.

Download the February 2021 Community Advisory Committee Meeting Summary.


November 2020 to January 2021

The City hosted several pre-engagement focus groups and interviews with Indigenous audiences (including rights holders and urban Indigenous organizations), community-based audiences (organizations with an interest or mandate related to the Master Plan) and internal City divisions and extended Partners. The pre-engagement meetings were set up to introduce the project and to explore how participants wanted to be engaged in the Master Plan process. In addition, the purpose of these meetings was to get a preliminary understanding of the issues, existing conditions and opportunities on Toronto Island.

Download the Pre-Engagement Summary Report.

Diagram illustrates the Master Plan framework using three boxes. The first box reads “What it seeks to achieve” with “Vision (Values, Vision + Guiding Principles)” above it. The second box reads “What it could like look like” with “Island Plan (Demonstration Plan)” above it. The third box reads “How it can be implemented” with “Island Strategies (Implementation Strategies)” above it.
Diagram shows the Master Plan framework for the Toronto Island Park Master Plan.

There are three key components that make up the Master Plan:

  1. What the plan seeks to achieve, informed by Drivers of Change, Vision, Values, and Guiding Principles
  2. What the plan could look like, consisting of a demonstration plan to illustrate Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions organized using five Lenses
  3. How the plan can be implemented, featuring Island-wide and site-specific plans and strategies that define detailed approaches to next steps and a phased approach to implementation

Timing for the Master Plan

A Master Plan does not get implemented all at once; it guides decision-making in the park over many years. In other words, as priorities are established and if funding becomes available and is approved for specific projects to proceed, additional design studies will be completed that will include separate and project-specific engagement processes before implementation occurs.

The Toronto Island Park Master Plan will:

  • Identify park entrances, gateways, lookouts, and improve access year-round
  • Improve wayfinding and signage
  • Help to uncover the natural and cultural history of Toronto Islands, including their significance to the Mississaugas of the Credit and other Indigenous communities
  • Consider improvements to shore treatments and marine activation
  • Review existing programs and uses (including events) and make recommendations for future uses
  • Improve service delivery and businesses on the Island to meet the needs of park visitors
  • Build a comprehensive understanding of the existing value of business opportunities within Toronto Island Park
  • Identify opportunities to improve the overall experience for visitors to Toronto Island Park

A Driver of Change is a challenge or opportunity that is driving the need to improve Toronto Island Park. They are the reasons why the Master Plan is needed.

The following challenges and opportunities have been identified and drive the need for the development of a comprehensive and strategic plan for Toronto Island Park:

The Island’s one-of-a-kind identity is uncelebrated

Since time immemorial, the Island has been a place of escape, respite and healing. It is also a meeting place for family and friends that welcomes a wide range of visitors including the Indigenous community, newcomers and 2SLGBTQ+. Toronto Island is a one of a kind place and yet its natural character, rich and storied past and unique identity is largely unknown.

The Indigenous history and significance of the Island is not well known

The Island is an important Indigenous place, and has been for millennia. For the Michi Saagiig, it was simply known as Mnisiing, meaning “on the islands.” Later, they were collectively known as Aiionwatha or Hiawatha’s Island. It has also been long considered as a meeting place and a place of healing and ceremony for Indigenous people. This rich history and living culture is not reflected in Toronto Island Park as it exists today.

The Island’s cultural and natural heritage is undervalued

The Island is a place rich in cultural and natural heritage. It includes several significant ecosystems that contribute not only to local ecological processes, health and function, but also form part of larger important regional systems, including being a part of migratory bird flyways. The diverse and complex history of human use and interaction within the Island’s natural and built spaces and its value as a refuge and escape for many underserved communities are also unshared are not well known. Many people are unaware of the origins of the Island’s natural land form and significance as a defining feature for the inner harbour and the role this played in the establishment of Toronto as a settlement, and the city that we know today.

The Toronto Island visitor experience could be improved.

Toronto Island is a special place that offers a different experience to everyone that visits or lives there. People come to Toronto Island for many different reasons, for example: hiking, biking, picnicking, spending time at Centreville, participating in events and celebrations, boating, paddling the internal waterways or spending a lazy afternoon at the beach. Many people simply visit to escape the city, recharge, and connect with nature. The visitor experience has untapped potential and room for improvement!

The Island has unrealized and under-realized business opportunities that should be explored and improved to advance a holistic visitor experience

The Toronto Island is a dynamic place with many opportunities for small and large businesses to provide diverse and high-quality visitor experiences. These opportunities should be better coordinated island-wide to ensure Toronto Island Park reaches its full potential. Currently, there are gaps in commercial offerings and it is difficult for small and diverse suppliers to enter the Island’s market. These challenges also extend to customer service, commercial offerings, improving the operating environment and trying to reduce or remove some of the logistical challenges of running an on-island business. Current business operations on the Island need to be examined to ensure the City is doing all that it can to facilitate high-quality and diverse service offerings which respond to the needs of visitors during all seasons.

Access and Accessibility – It can be difficult to get to the Island

The Toronto Island should be a place for everyone, where there are limited or no obstacles or barriers when travelling to and getting around the Island. This includes accessing dock areas, ferries, buildings, and park amenities, as well as the Island attractions, beaches (including the water) and the many natural experiences the Islands have to offer.

Toronto Island is a dynamic environment that is constantly changing

The Toronto Islands originated as a sandbar and has evolved over time into the islands that make up the park we are familiar with today. The landform is vulnerable to the whims of mother-nature and the Island’s environment is constantly changing which presents ongoing operational, service delivery and management challenges that require continued investment.

Toronto Island and its supporting infrastructure is aging

Much of the Island’s infrastructure was installed decades ago and is aging and in various states of repair. In addition, environmental impacts from high lake effect, flooding and erosion have contributed to the decline of Island infrastructure. Despite ongoing capital investments and improvements to ensure the safety of the public and continued use of the park facilities and amenities, additional investments and updates are required. To ensure public safety and mitigate environmental impacts of flooding and erosion, a more strategic plan for coordinating these improvements is needed. This will help to ensure that the future function and sustainability of the park is maintained for future generations.

Population Growth is placing increasing demands on Parks

The population of downtown Toronto is growing at a pace that far exceeds the population growth for the city as a whole, with an estimated 10,000 residents added each year. According to the City’s new TOcore Downtown Secondary Plan, downtown could nearly double in size by 2041, and reach a population of 475,000. The TOcore Parks and Public Realm Plan has also identified that downtown Toronto is highly parkland deficient and has linked population growth with increased demand and use of parks. In response, the City’s Parkland Strategy has identified Guiding Principles to Expand, Improve, Connect and be more inclusive with our park system to respond to the city’s growth and to ensure our parks become more accessible, functional, connected and resilient. Toronto Island Park can help to achieve these goals for the benefit of the downtown core and the city overall.


The vision identifies the aspirations and speaks to the end goals of the Master Plan. It looks to the past for context and understanding, identifies a path forward, and also sits within the shared values of the project to reveal the outcomes and realization of this Master Plan.

The Park will be a place to:

Protect and Restore

The Toronto Islands have long been a place of rest and respite for all living beings. They have been a place of healing and escape for generations of humans and a home to many unique and significant natural habitats that are integral to the health and resilience of local and global natural systems.

As Toronto continues to grow and evolve, Toronto Island Park will be a place where dynamic natural environments and sensitive habitats are protected and supported through stewardship, education, and management that prioritizes ecological integrity and sustainability. It will be a safe place for community, where all are welcome and equitable access is central to the experience of the park for all living beings. It will be a place to seek refuge from urban life and stresses and experience the healing and restorative powers of being immersed within nature. It will be a park for generations to enjoy and experience through thoughtful management and understanding of the needs of all living beings that call this place home.

Honour and Celebrate

The Island has been a place of significance for various communities over generations. It has been a place to meet and gather, to celebrate what makes us unique and what we share. It has long stood as common ground where all who came here were visitors and shared what the islands could provide.

Toronto Island Park will be a place that embraces the sovereignty of the land, water and sky within the park as living beings and actively seeks to share the Indigenous significance through placekeeping, place-making, and place-revealing. It will be a place where diversity is celebrated and supported through sharing the identity, character, and legacy of the islands by uplifting and sharing different perspectives and revealing all the stories of the park, new and old. It will be a place of belonging that is inclusive and celebratory of Indigenous communities, Black communities, People of Colour, 2SLGBTQ+, women and gender non-conforming people, disabled people, children and youth, seniors, people experiencing poverty and all equity-deserving communities.

Gather and Support

The dynamic nature of the Toronto Islands and the sand-swept landscape have always been a source of awe and wonder for visitors. The shifting forms and changing ecology created a place that was new and different each time one set foot on its shores. Its restorative character created ideal spaces for recreation and escape and the islands evolved into destinations for play and adventure.

Toronto Island Park will be a place that embraces the wonder and joy of the ever-changing landscape through a new understanding of play for all ages and abilities—over time and through all seasons. It will deliver experiences that are special to this place by acknowledging the uniqueness and dynamic character of the islands—past, present, and future. It will promote sharing, learning, and teaching through land-based practices, partnerships with diverse and under-represented voices, and programming that reflects the variety of lived experiences and worldviews that make up Toronto. It will ensure equitable access through accessible and affordable spaces, experiences, and connections that invite all to visit, experience and explore the natural and man-made wonders the park has to offer.


Through engagement and collaboration with rights holders, City staff, community representatives, and the general public, the following values were developed to guide the Master Plan process and recommendations.

Values are fundamental requirements for guiding the Master Plan. They are overarching ideals that are universally true, regardless of context or specific conditions. The values outlined here form the basis of the vision and guiding principles in support of the overall Master Plan. They also apply beyond the limits of this study and align with the City’s corporate and divisional strategic initiatives overall. Quite simply, the Toronto Island Park Master Plan must embody all of these values.

Respect for both people and nature by:

  • acknowledging the land as a living being;
  • advocating for the rights of all living beings and systems first – and as part of interconnected and interdependent systems and existence; and,
  • honouring the practices and rights of past, present and future inhabitants.

Diversity of cultures, practices and people as well as biodiversity by:

  • prioritizing inclusion and celebration of differing worldviews, experiences, and abilities;
  • ensuring equitable access to amenities, facilities, and services; and,
  • protecting and restoring sensitive and unique environments and habitats.

Balance between active and passive, local and visitor, long-term and short-lived by:

  • considering the needs of all parts of a system in the sharing and distribution of resources; and,
  • prioritizing the needs of the natural environment in addition to human use and comfort.

Accountability in process, practice and principles by:

  • committing to transparent processes;
  • developing sustainable investment in social, environmental, and economic initiatives; and,
  • cultivating lasting relationships with rights holders, stakeholders, and communities in stewardship of this place.

Guiding Principles

Guiding principles are the rules for how the Master Plan should meet the objectives of the project and respond to the drivers identified at the outset of this study. These guiding principles are specific to the approach for Toronto Island Park and have been informed through the public engagement process.

The Park should:

  • Honour and respect Indigenous communities, placekeeping, and their rights and responsibilities to the islands and water
  • Celebrate and protect the unique cultural identity and spirit of the islands
  • Prioritize, protect, and advocate for the ecological integrity of the islands
  • Leverage the dynamic nature of the islands and waterways to support adaptive and flexible uses
  • Demonstrate resilience, sustainability, and responsible landscape and water management
  • Prioritize equitable access and inclusion and correct the perception of private and public spaces within the park’s limits
  • Enhance the visitor experience for all seasons
  • Provide diverse amenities and experiences to encourage exploration, sharing, and discovery
  • Support opportunities for diverse and sustainable businesses to thrive
  • Develop evidence-based strategic investments to ensure long-term and continued success, and plan in a financially sustainable manner
  • Prioritize the enhancement and adaptation of undervalued assets to support new uses
  • Ensure any new development embodies the spirit of the Island’s character

During Phase 2 of the Master Plan process, the public were invited to share their own ideas about the future of Toronto Island Park. Over 140 ideas were submitted. The project team evaluated each idea to confirm their alignment with the Vision, Values, and Guiding Principles that were established through public engagement in Phase 1.

Five Lenses were then developed as a way to organize and group the public’s ideas. Each lens works independently, but they also work together and are one of the organizing elements of the Draft Master Plan. Each lens proposes a series of Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions to help realize each recommendation. The recommendations and actions may target a specific area of the Island or they may be applicable Island-wide.

The five Lenses and corresponding recommendations and actions are described below, and are further illustrated using demonstration plans that map out how the ideas might begin to take shape in the physical spaces of the Island and contribute to an overall plan.

The ideas outlined in Lenses 2 through 5 are based on inputs received through the extensive engagement process that took place during Phase 1, and include inputs from City staff at various divisions, advisory groups, and the public.

Lens 1: Revealing an Indigenous Place

Mnisiing, the original name for the islands, is a significant place for the First Peoples of this territory and used by Indigenous peoples long before written history. Through our continued learning, and sharing by elders and traditional knowledge holders, we have heard that since time immemorial, the islands, its sandy shoals, and the sand spits that preceded them were a sacred place where mothers travelled to birth their children, where ceremonies were conducted, where Anishinaabeg harvested staples such as whitefish and wild rice and were places where Indigenous traders to colonial York sought rest and refuge.

Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions

The following ideas are based on input and vision from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit communities, whose vision and ideas need to be grounded in their culture and worldview:

Identifying dedicated space for ceremony

Designate Snake Island as a formal ceremonial space, providing infrastructure and support for programs and uses. (1A)

Identifying opportunities for naming and renaming
  • Consider opportunities to rename places of Indigenous significance
  • Identify meaningful ways to incorporate Indigenous language into wayfinding, place names, and interpretation across the islands
Enhancing landings and gateways
  • Integrate art and cultural markers to signal arrival on Indigenous land (3A)
  • Identify opportunities to share protocols for respecting the land and water through interpretation and programming
Integrating Storytelling and Interpretation throughout the park
  • Create a Cultural Narrative Trail to provide a linked interpretive experience across the Island (4A)
  • Provide diverse settings for sharing Indigenous teaching moments
Identifying spaces for teaching, learning, and sharing Indigenous knowledge
  • Create nodes along the Cultural Narrative Trail to share teachings and celebrate diverse Indigenous communities (e.g. 13 Grandmother Moons) (5A)
  • Create a major gathering and celebration space in a key destination that includes winter access to provide opportunities for year-round interpretation and teaching (e.g. Big Spirit Moon Plaza) (5B)
  • Create a flexible gathering and celebration space to support Indigenous and non-Indigenous programming in an open-air setting (Olympic Island Event Space) (5C)
  • Create teaching spaces across the Island to demonstrate Indigenous knowledge and land management practices
Identifying opportunities and spaces to support Indigenous artists, craftspeople, food vendors, and broader businesses
  • Provide dedicated space within Centre Landing Marketplace to accommodate frequent and occasional selling of food, crafts, and wares (6A)
  • Simplify access to a variety of spaces and opportunities to attract and retain diverse Indigenous-operated businesses on the Island
Exploring opportunities for co-management
  • Explore opportunities to operate tourism and transportation services for the Island
  • Identify and promote opportunities to integrate art and cultural markers
  • Explore opportunities to deliver programs for Indigenous and non-Indigenous visitors and operate permanent or pop-up businesses on the Island
  • Identify opportunities to manage and restore natural environments of the Island

Illustrative map of Toronto Island Park showing potential locations for the Supporting Actions as described as in the preceding list.

Download the Revealing an Indigenous Place briefing document.

Lens 2: Elevating Equity and Belonging

Belonging is an essential part of being human – we are hard-wired to want to connect and assert our role as part of a larger group and community—be it with friends, family or the neighbourhoods and communities that we live in. Beyond diversity and inclusion, a sense of belonging is fundamental to establishing a strong sense of community and a person’s feelings of safety and well-being. ‘Belonging’ is centred on tolerance, mutual respect, sharing experiences as well as celebrating the differences and similarities we share with one another and the world around us.

In a city, parks offer a unique and special place to explore our sense of belonging since they act as the fabric that weaves our city together—connecting one natural area to another or knitting one neighbourhood to another to create an intricate and rich network of shared spaces that support our daily lives. Toronto Island Park is no exception. Toronto is a city in which everyone is welcome and people and communities from many diverse backgrounds come together. This sense of welcome, community, pride and belonging needs to also be part of Toronto Island Park for all who visit or live there.

Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions

Relieving economic barriers
  • Explore program opportunities to provide affordable access and activities for all ages, abilities, and incomes on the Island
  • Reinvest in existing infrastructure and spaces to enhance affordable experiences and enjoyment of the park
  • Provide affordable and diverse food options
Diversifying representation in Island businesses and programs
  • Create a variety of spaces and opportunities to attract and retain diverse and under-served service providers to the Island
  • Simplify park permit processes (e.g. BBQs and Fire Pits)
  • Provide more picnic tables and shelters distributed through the park
  • Implement Business Strategy recommendations to support diverse procurement and business operations
Expanding opportunities for visitors experiencing disabilities to explore the park
  • Encourage multi-sensory experiences within natural areas (such as quiet areas to encourage listening for wildlife)
  • Provide accessible transportation to and from the island and throughout the park
  • Provide accessible paths within natural areas and water access at beaches and within the water
  • Create rest and gathering areas along pathways and access routes
Encouraging strategic partnerships to promote access and programs
  • Explore opportunities to enhance existing programs and partner with new service providers who specialize in affordable community programming
  • Identify opportunities to revitalize and share existing island facilities and infrastructure to deliver complementary programs and improve access through partnerships through all seasons

Download the Elevating Equity and Belonging briefing document.

Lens 3: Enhancing Visitor Experience

Toronto Island Park offers a visitor experience unlike any other park in the city and is one of the largest parks in Toronto with park features and amenities that have been shaped by the Island’s rich natural and cultural heritage. Approximately 1.5 million people visit annually and as many as 20,000 on a busy summer day. The park is also home to a wide variety of services and amenities, activities and destinations that offer many different experiences to many different people. There is something for everyone on the Island to do or you can visit simply to get away. Visitors currently access the Island via the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and can begin to plan their visit through the City’s webpage where they can gather Island information related to ferry schedules and ticket prices. Toronto Island is fully open in the summer months with reduced service, programs, and amenities through the spring and fall. Currently, there is very limited activity on the Island in winter.

Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions

Sharing information to help plan your visit
  • Improve communication about how to get places and where to go (map)
  • Provide useful and consistent wayfinding signage island-wide
  • Expand infrastructure to support on-Island digital access to information
  • Create accessible and scalable open spaces at arrival points and distributed throughout the park that can adapt to seasonal fluctuations, and special programming to deliver a consistent visitor experience and help plan your “Day on the Island”
  • Provide clearer and friendlier access to information, both online and in person at the ferries, landing and throughout the park using Island Ambassadors
Expanding opportunities for play and exploration for all ages and abilities
  • Revitalize and expand existing play spaces across the islands
  • Identify opportunities for new non-structured play elements (e.g. hammocks, landform)
Expanding opportunities for food, rental and retail
  • Create a destination at Centre Ferry Landing to provide year-round visitor amenities and programming at Centre Island (3A)
  • Create new rental opportunities for bikes, boats and beach equipment distributed throughout the park where people need them (3B)
  • Revitalize ferry landings and gateways to provide a sense of arrival and amenities to address visitor’s needs and requirements in peak and off-peak seasons (3C)
  • Create new space at Gibraltar Point to promote Island-wide activity, embrace opportunities near the Lighthouse and Trout Pond and better connect Centre Island with the west side of the park (3D)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for Expanding opportunities for food, rental and retail

Enhancing uses on water
  • Promote Long Pond Non-Motorized Zone for safer paddling (4A)
  • Expand locations for new water nodes with integrated short-term storage and rental opportunities for non-motorized watercraft across the islands (4B)
  • Improve safe and universal access to the Cove and Eastern Channel mooring wall (4C)
  • Improve swim experience on all beaches (4D)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for enhancing uses on water

Enhancing uses on land
  • Create dedicated welcoming spaces, or hubs, at all ferry landings to mark arrival, share information, orient visitors, and provide access to key facilities and amenities to start and end visits to the Island (5A)
  • Formalize infrastructure to support event space at Hanlan’s Point (e.g. landform, amphitheatre) (5B)
  • Create improved opportunity for overnight experiences along a portion of the Hanlan’s Mooring Wall and north of Trout Pond to take advantage of existing facilities nearby (5C)
  • Revitalize Olympic Island to mitigate flooding and restore pavilion and structures to celebrate and enhance views of the city skyline (5D)
  • Expand Hanlan’s Beach clothing optional area (5E)
  • Enhance and revitalize existing structures across the islands to create spaces for gatherings of various sizes in all seasons (5F)
  • Identify opportunities for new structures, warming shelters, and winterized washrooms associated with new and existing circulation routes and activity hubs to support year-round use of island facilities (5G)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for Enhancing uses on land

Sharing all the Island stories
  • Enhance online information and storytelling
  • Expand Wayfinding island-wide
  • Curate Narrative Trail and loops/lookouts
  • Identify and share history and cultural heritage of the entire Island
  • Establish strategy for Cultural markers and flags in alignment with City policy
Celebrating the role of art in placemaking
  • Identify opportunities to partner with existing Island establishments to deliver programming and enhance existing offerings
  • Explore opportunities to deliver seasonal, year-round, and permanent installations
  • Identify opportunities for installations, projects, and programs at varying scales to suit sites, expertise, and capacities of partners

Download the Enhancing Visitor Experience briefing document.

Lens 4: Supporting a Dynamic Environment

The Island is an ever-changing place. Formed through the deposit of sand from the erosion of the Scarborough Bluffs over centuries, it supports diverse plants and animals within protected, managed, and unmanaged landscapes. The Island works as an important part of several regional and local natural systems, including being part of the migratory bird flyways, providing habitat for many endangered and threatened animals and plants. The natural heritage of the islands includes 6 Environmentally Significant Areas (ESAs) and 1 Provincially Significant Wetland complex. The Island also serves as an active, vibrant, and open park space for exploration and play by humans that is part of the Core Circle of parks, is a destination waterfront park linked to the city’s larger parkland system and is an important contribution to the city’s biodiversity connecting to the nearby Don River and Tommy Thompson Park.

Key Recommendations and Supporting Ideas

Promoting stewardship and resilience
  • Better engage Island residents and others as champions and partners in the management, activation, and advocacy of the park
  • Develop Island Charter to help communicate Island etiquette towards use and behaviour that benefits long term vision for the islands
  • Develop a Coordinated Landscape Resource Management Plan
  • Identify opportunities to partner with and promote existing and planned City and TRCA restoration initiatives, including ecological enhancements of specific areas and future flood mitigation measures
Enhancing protection of the natural environment
  • Identify “no-go” areas to protect sensitive habitats (2A)
  • Identify opportunities for planned seasonal access and closures to support ecosystem function and health and protect habitats during nesting seasons (2B)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for enhancing protection of the natural environment

Improving access to natural heritage
  • Create Lagoon Loop pathway connection to provide controlled access and integrate undervalued natural areas of the park and support Long Pond Non-Motorized Zone through use of bridges as physical barriers to large watercraft (3A)
  • Develop Trout Pond Boardwalk to communicate and advocate for the value of diverse habitats both on land and water (3B)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for improving access to natural heritage

Sharing the importance of the Island’s natural history
  • Investigate and communicate ecological integrity of the Islands through comprehensive and on-going natural heritage and ecological assessments
  • Curate programs and teaching about importance, function, and management of significant areas specific to Toronto (ESAs), as well as provincially significant areas (ANSIs and PSWs) with PFR staff and external partners as part of a larger curated approach (4A)
  • Develop interpretive elements to share information about habitat and ecosystems on the Island that are area- and habitat-specific promoting protection (4B)

A map showing the location of the preceding information for sharing the importance of the Island’s natural history

Download the Supporting a Dynamic Environment briefing document.

Lens 5: Improving Access and Connection

At 242 hectares (598 acres) of land area, the Island is one of the largest parks in Toronto with natural and cultural heritage park features and points of interest that provide a diverse park experience for everyone. Toronto Island offers a unique experience that is only accessible by water. During peak seasons, ferries service three landings on the Island and funnel all traffic through one main ferry terminal on the mainland. Outside of peak season (summer months), service is reduced to one Island landing on the east side at Wards Island. Circulation on the Island also impacts the safety and enjoyment of visitors throughout the park. Once on the Island, visitors can rent bicycles and some watercraft at a limited capacity.

Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions

Improving (Water) Transportation to the Island
  • Improve Ferry frequency and align with programming and events (1A)
  • Provide year-round access to Centre Landing to support expanded programming and seasonal offerings with complementary on-Island transportation to support in all seasons (1B)
  • Enhance Ferry landings to support Ferry Fleet replacement, improved accessibility, sustainability, flood mitigation, and improved visitor amenities (1C)
  • Provide dedicated servicing ferry from the Port Lands to eliminate vehicle and pedestrian mixing at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal (1D)
  • Create a Water Shuttle network to provide new predictable connections to destinations across the waterfront and islands (1E)
  • Enhance access to short-term docking and servicing for personal watercraft (1F)

The first of two maps showing the location of the preceding information for improving (Water) Transportation to the Island The second of two maps showing the location of the preceding information for improving (Water) Transportation to the Island

Improving Circulation on the Island
  • Expand pedestrian trail networks to support expanded and intensive uses (2A)
  • Consider new pedestrian bridges within the park at key points to improve accessibility across the islands (2B)
  • Create opportunities to use the internal waterways to move through and experience the park through water nodes and enhancement of rental opportunities (2C)
  • Enhance wayfinding with new signage on land and water and digital information sharing

A map showing the location of the preceding information for improving Circulation on the Island

Enhancing Accessibility
  • Provide Accessible Tram service to all ferry landings and stops at key destinations across the island (3A)
  • Provide accessible connections to existing spaces (beaches, in-water, ESAs) (3B)
  • Create integrated rest areas within new pathway system and along existing routes
  • Explore opportunities for digital wayfinding including curated interpretation and signage elements at key locations

A map showing the location of the preceding information for enhancing Accessibility

Download the Improving Access and Connection briefing document.

Demonstration plans are a way to show how some of the ideas become proposed physical improvements to Toronto Island. They include recommendations that can be applied to specific Island districts, specific focus areas or they may also be applicable for roll-out across the Island.  Demonstration plans are just one example of how the ideas can be mapped to the Island and there are many demonstration plans that contribute to and will be included in the Draft Master Plan. Demonstration plans are not detailed designs that will be constructed. These high-level plans will be used to help set the ideas and key recommendations of the plan in context to inform future discussions, decision making, and budget requests in order to pursue additional studies, detailed design, and engagement processes for these ideas and proposed improvements to become a reality.

The Draft Master Plan includes demonstration plans for the four Island Districts: Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point, Centre Island and Ward’s Island, as well as smaller plans for additional focus areas within each district. The Draft Master Plan is being shared with the public through an Open House where the public is being invited to share their comments on the information being presented. This feedback will be used to inform the Final Master Plan that will be shared with the public at a celebration in summer 2023.

The final Master Plan will be comprised of the following components:

  1. Vision, Values, Guiding Principles
  2. Demonstration Plan (Key Recommendations and Supporting Actions)
  3. Implementation Strategies

Toronto Island is a complex park that involves the participation of many different City divisions to maintain and operate. In a similar way, Park planning and decision making for improvements in this park now and in the future is informed by many different studies and strategic initiatives being completed by the City, TRCA, the Port Authority, and others. The Toronto Island Master Plan is being developed in consideration of and in coordination with the key recommendations of these studies.

The following list provides an example of the other studies and initiatives that are informing the Master Plan:

  • Toronto and Region Conservations Authority – Flood Mitigation EA
  • Parkland Strategy
  • Facilities Master Plan
  • TO Core Parks and Public Realm Plan
  • Reconciliation Action Plan
  • Marine Strategy
  • Resilience Strategy
  • Biodiversity Strategy
  • Public Art Strategy

This list is constantly evolving and being updated. Throughout the Master Plan process and beyond, these strategic initiatives will inform strategic thinking and decision making to ensure the Toronto Island Park Master Plan is a current and meaningful document. As the city’s population grows, demands on park spaces increase. As trends change and new recommendations emerge, the Master Plan will be reviewed and updated in order to remain relevant. In this way, the Toronto Island Master Plan will be a living document that will ensure the sustainability and integrity of Toronto Island Park for years to come.

Toronto Island Park Public Life Study

Public Life Study was undertaken from August to September 2020 to better understand how the Island is used. Measuring public life – how many people walk by, who stops to sit down, what they do there – is critical in understanding the successes and challenges of a public space. Data was collected through a combination of behavioural observation and surveys. The findings of this study have helped to inform the Toronto Island Park Master Plan.