The City’s Playground Enhancement Program (PEP) is committed to improving playgrounds and play spaces across the city so everyone can experience the joys and benefits of play. Each year, around 22 existing playgrounds are improved with new designs and modern equipment.

The City collaborates with the local community to develop priorities for the playground improvements and guide the final design. The final playground design must meet the needs of the community while balancing site conditions and construction budgets.

Playground improvements often include:

  • new state-of-the-art play features like slides, climbing structures, swings, and more
  • play structures for both junior (two to five) and senior (five to 12) ages
  • seating, rest areas and shade areas

Playground improvements always include:

  • accessibility features as regulated by:
  • replacement of sand with modern surfaces that incorporate proper drainage and meet current safety and accessibility standards

Project Timelines

The typical playground improvement project is completed within a two-year timeline:

  • Year one: Public engagement and design
  • Year two: Hire a contractor and complete construction

How Playgrounds are Selected for Improvement

Playgrounds are evaluated and considered for improvement based on the following factors:

  1. Playground’s physical condition, which considers things like age of the playground, play value, and accessibility.
  2. Equity, which considers whether or not the playground is in a Neighbourhood Improvement Area as well as the Child and Family Inequity Score from Raising the Village.
  3. Park deficiency, which considers whether the playground is in a park-deficient neighbourhood.

A priority list of playgrounds in need of improvements is created and incorporated into a dedicated budget for the PEP, which then informs the City’s 10-Year Capital Plan.

The City defines an accessible playground as one that is Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) compliant and offers a range of play experiences to children of varying abilities. This includes accessible features, ground surfaces that are firm, stable, and absorb impact for injury prevention, and ground surfaces with enough space for individuals to move through, in, and around the area. There must be an accessible path from the sidewalk, or a building, or a parking lot, to the edge of the play area and an accessible path from the edge of the play area to the play equipment.

The main difference between an accessible or AODA compliant playground and an inclusive playground is how the design affects the individual’s experience. Accessibility focuses on removing barriers that may prevent an individual from accessing the playground (e.g., the playground can be entered without challenge or hindrance). Inclusivity enhances an individual’s play experience by providing a variety of experiences that children of all abilities can enjoy, without limitations. Inclusive playgrounds go beyond the minimum standards set for AODA compliance.

The City collaborates with playground equipment suppliers to develop AODA compliant design schemes for each play space.

The Different Types of Play Spaces

AODA Compliant Playgrounds

Every new and improved playground must be AODA compliant. The City continues to work towards upgrading all 850+ playgrounds to this level of accessibility. AODA-compliant playgrounds accommodate mobility aids to and within the play space and may include modified pieces of equipment for varying, but not all abilities.

Inclusive Playgrounds

Expanding on AODA compliance, inclusive playgrounds are designed to meet a variety of needs, like sensory processing disorders, mobility challenges, sight impairment, or other disabilities. Although every child may not be capable of engaging with every play activity, an inclusive playground has modified pieces of equipment that allow children with different abilities to participate without leaving the play area.

An inclusive playground is often located in a destination park – a park that is accessible by transit, has an accessible parking lot, and an accessible washroom facility – and given the additional construction costs, is almost always delivered in partnership with donors.

Inclusive playgrounds can be found in the following parks:

Play Equipment Examples

Black and white illustration of a playground with the play equipment shown in light blue, dark blue and green. From right to left is a see-saw, glider, sand table, cozy dome, ramp and swing set.

This illustration combines the different types of play spaces to emphasize their features, size and how they might interact with one another.

Accessible see-saw

Illustration of a we-saw which shows a four person see-saw with seats that have backs and handlebars.

A see-saw allows some participants to actively engage in the see-saw motion while others can enjoy it more passively. The seats are designed to help support the upper body. The accessible see-saw is most often found in an inclusive playground.


Illustration of a glider showing an enclosed oval shaped structure with children, caregivers and a child with a mobility aid inside.

A glider, similar to an accessible see-saw or spring toy, allows participants with mobility aids, like wheelchairs, to access play features without leaving their mobility aid.

Sand table

Illustration of a sand table - a sandbox on legs with a child standing on one side and a child in a mobility aid on the other side.

A sand table is a sandbox raised on legs that allow children with mobility aids, like wheelchairs, to interact with sand on a surface that does not sink or prevent the device from moving.

Accessible ramp

Illustration of a play structure with a long ramp and a child in a wheelchair at the end of it.

An accessible ramp allows those with mobility aids to travel from the playground surface to elevated playground equipment. Accessible ramps are best suited in large play spaces to accommodate an accessible slope for those using mobility assisting devices.

Transfer station

Illustration of a play structure in blue with slides, which focuses on a transfer station with green steps, with the first bottom step wider than the others, and next to a curved railing for user stability.

A passive play space has independent and/or imaginative play features placed in a sheltered or enclosed area of the playground. Children experiencing sensory overstimulation can come here without feeling isolated from the playground area.

Quiet play area

Illustration of a small curved dome with a small opening and a child inside reading.

A passive play space has independent and/or imaginative play features placed in a sheltered or enclosed area of the playground. Children experiencing sensory overstimulation can come here without feeling isolated from the playground area.

Buddy swing

Illustration of a swing with two seats facing one another with a child in each seat.

A buddy swing allows a child to swing alongside a friend or caregiver and is most often found in an inclusive playground.

Accessible swing

Illustration of a swing set with two belt swings, a toddler swing and an accessible swing with green mats below each seat for easy access. A child is sitting in the accessible seat and the toddler seat.

An accessible swing allows children with mobility limitations to swing. The swing cradles the entire body and has straps for safety.

Disc swing

Illustration of a swing with a large disc shaped blue seat and a green mat below it for easy access. A child sits on the seat while being pushed.

A disc swing has a large, round, disc-shaped seat that can accommodate more than one child, allowing for social interaction and cooperative play.

At the start of a playground enhancement project, signs are posted at the playground to notify the community of the upcoming improvements and provide the address for the project-specific webpage. The project webpage provides information on the project timeline, important project updates, a link to the community engagement survey when it is available, and a link to sign up to receive updates from the project team.

The community can provide input into the design of the playground through a family-friendly online survey. The survey provides multiple playground designs with different equipment options. The feedback collected through the survey is used to identify the community’s preferences and priorities for the final playground design.

Donate or Partner with Us

Invest in the wellbeing of children and their families by sponsoring, donating or partnering with the City’s playground revitalization initiative. Email to learn how you can help us improve Toronto’s play spaces.

Before and After Playground Improvement Projects