The Toronto Island Park Master Plan was co-created with Indigenous rights holders, local communities and the public over several years of public consultation. This process engaged over 4500 participants and included a launch ceremony, Indigenous engagements and placekeeping meetings, virtual and in-person events, stakeholder meetings, a youth ambassador program and more.

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The advisory and placekeeping groups included communities with interests or mandates that are directly connected to the Master Plan and who provided valuable insights that guided the development of the completed Master Plan.

Business Reference Groups

The City held business reference meetings with Island and waterfront businesses to review and discuss key issues emerging from the Business Strategy. They met as needed over the course of the process.

Community Advisory Committee

A group made of waterfront-based, city-wide and Indigenous communities with a mandate or interest that connects to the Master Plan.

Hanlan’s Point Beach Working Group

This working group was established to help shape the future of Hanlan’s Point Beach. The Hanlan’s Point Working Group consists of 20 participants, including regular beach users, beach advocates and representatives of organizations related to the beach. The Working Group includes 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.

Indigenous Placekeeping and Advisory Groups

Indigenous Placemaking Advisory Circle (IPAC)

The Indigenous Placemaking Advisory Council was a group convened by the City’s Indigenous Affairs Office. It was comprised of 10 to 15 individuals representing a range of Indigenous organizations and perspectives.

Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN)

These discussions include representatives of the MCFN, Elders, knowledge keepers and others who connect about placekeeping on Toronto Island from the Michi Saagiig perspective.

Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) is comprised of staff representing 20 to 30 City divisions or other public agencies (Waterfront Toronto, Ports Toronto, and others). The TAC provides advice, technical guidance and helps connect the Master Plan to other concurrent, related initiatives.

The drivers of change are the challenges and opportunities that are driving the need to develop a Master Plan and improve Toronto Island Park. The following challenges and opportunities have been identified:

Toronto 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 Indigenous communities, newcomers and 2SLGBTQ+. Toronto Island Park is a one-of-a-kind place and yet its natural character, rich and storied past and unique identity are largely unknown.

The Indigenous history and significance of Toronto 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.

Toronto 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 landform 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 different experiences. 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.

Toronto 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.

It can be difficult to get to Toronto Island

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 are 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 the 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, 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 sits within the shared values of the project to reveal the outcomes and realization of this Master Plan.

Protect and restore

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

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

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.


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 these values.

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

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

Community Engagement Phase 1 focused on developing a collective vision, values and guiding principles to guide the development of the Master Plan. The What We Heard Summary Report consolidates insights and outcomes from all engagement activities and tools that happened in this phase.

Download the What We Heard: Phase 1 Summary Report.

April 2021

Virtual Indigenous Placekeeping Forum

On April 28, 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.

Online Survey

From March 17 to April 9, over 5,000 participants provided insights on their Toronto Island Park experiences and how they would like to experience it in the future.

Download the April 2021 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.

April 7, 2021

Visioning Workshop

On April 7, a visioning workshop 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 April 2021 Public Visioning Workshop Summary Report.

March 2021

Indigenous Focus Groups

From March 28 to March 31, 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 March 2021 Indigenous Engagement Summary Report.

Launch Ceremony

On March 17, 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 to15 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) Meeting 1

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, community-based audiences and internal City divisions and extended partners to get a preliminary understanding of the issues, existing conditions and opportunities on Toronto Island.

The pre-engagement meetings introduced the project and explored how participants wanted to be engaged in the Master Plan process.

Download the Pre-Engagement Summary Report.

Toronto Island Stories

Island Stories is a collective storytelling project that captures the unique ways Torontonians from all walks of life experience Toronto Island.

We have heard from families who have lived on the Island for decades, visitors who have enjoyed concerts, ferry rides, and the island maze, individuals who have celebrated special moments on the island, and even stories of a lighthouse ghost! The campaign has provided an opportunity for reflection as we collectively create the Toronto Island Park Master Plan.

Share your story on the Island Stories page and inspire your thoughts for the future of the Island.

August to September 2020

Toronto Island Park Public Life Study

A Public Life Study was undertaken to better understand how the Island is used. Data was collected through a combination of behavioural observation and surveys.

Community Engagement Phase 2 focused on building on the collective vision, values and guiding principles developed in Phase 1, identify Big Ideas and develop a Draft Demonstration Plan. The What We Heard Summary Report consolidates insights and outcomes from all engagement activities and tools that happened in this phase.

Download the:

August 2022

Summer Pop-Up Events

On August 13, 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.

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 March 2022 open house presentation.

Each room shared ideas from one of five themes:

Deep Dives

From March 3 to March 24, 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) Meeting 3

On February 16, 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 February 16, 2022 meeting summary.

December 2021

Virtual Towards Belonging Forum

On December 9, over 100 people joined the virtual Towards Belonging Form where community and thought leaders, artists and experts were invited to discuss the concept of ‘belonging’ in public spaces and 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

Virtual Placekeeping Dialogue Site Walk

On November 19, the City hosted a Placekeeping Dialogue with the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN) 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.

October 2021

Focus Groups and Targeted Discussions

From October 20 to December 6, 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 to 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 August 2021 Youth Ambassador Pop-up summary report.

Online Survey

From August 4 to August 16, 1,500 people participated in an online survey 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.

July 2021

Virtual Big Ideas Workshop

Over 100 people attended a virtual workshop to provide feedback on the proposed Big Ideas gathered during Community Engagement. This event included an overview of 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 Jul 2021 Public Workshop Summary Report.

Community Advisory Committee (CAC) Meeting 2

The CAC was joined by the City’s Technical Advisory Committee to discuss and co-develop the Big Ideas the emerged from Community Engagement Phase 1.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:

June 2021

Big Ideas Activity

From May 27 and June 20, the public was invited to review, rate and comment on preliminary Big Ideas from the Master Plan as well as to submit Big Ideas they thought would bring the collective vision to life. In total, we collected over 140 ideas, 75,000 ratings and 900 comments.

Download the Big Ideas June 2021 Summary Report.

Community Engagement Phase 3 focused on confirming the direction of the Master Plan by refining the Demonstration Plan and its site-specific approaches and confirming priorities for implementation.

Download the Phase 3 What We Heard Report.

April 2024

Open House

On April 16, from 6 to 8:30 p.m., the City hosted an open house at the Bentway Studio Space at 55 Fort York Blvd. Over 60 community members attended to learn about how community feedback shaped the Master Plan, speak with the project team and provide thoughts on the proposed priorities.

Download the:

March 2024

Advisory Group Check-Ins

Through February and March, the City hosted a number of Advisory Group Meetings to provide an update on the Master Plan and share preliminary content toward the final plan priorities and recommendations.  Each group was given the opportunity to provide feedback that informed the evolution of the final Master Plan document.

Hanlan’s Working Group

In March, the City developed a Hanlan’s Working Group to act as a future advisory body towards recommendations and Master Plan implementation related and/or impacting Hanlan’s Point.  The working group session was a kick-off session to help orient the group and to provide an update and share preliminary content towards the final plan priorities and recommendations relating to the goal of Celebrating 2SLGBTQ2+ Significance.  The Terms of Reference were not discussed and were to be developed following the Report to Council.

September 2023

Online Survey

From August 25 to September 24, an online survey reported back to the community on “what we heard from Hanlan’s Point Beach conversations, illustrating how this feedback was incorporated into the Draft Master Plan. Over 800 participants provided feedback on the outcomes and the overall satisfaction with the Hanlan’s Point Beach community engagement process.

Download the September 2023 survey summary.

February to March 2023

Hanlan’s Point Beach Community Engagement

In-person and virtual events were held in response to concerns from 2SLGBTQ+ communities and Hanlan’s Point Beach users regarding the Draft Master Plan and ideas proposed for Hanlan’s Point. 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,

Feedback from these engagements included:

  • Opposition to the proposed formalized event space at Hanlan’s Point.
  • 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 Point.
  • 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 November 30, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., 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 November 2022 open house meeting summary.