The next round of PollinateTO grants will open in the fall of 2020. Stay tuned for specific dates.
Through its new PollinateTO grants program, the City will fund pollinator habitat creation projects that educate and engage the community.
Up to $5,000 per project is available.
Are you interested in gardening and protecting pollinators? Would you like to:
If you answered yes to any of the above, please apply to PollinateTO for funding to support your idea!
PollinateTO advances the principles and priorities of the City’s Pollinator Protection Strategy.
In 2019, thirty-five applications were selected to receive funding from among 151 applications submitted. Approved projects include community faith gardens, Indigenous education gardens, residential rain gardens, schoolyard teaching gardens, and multiple front-yard gardens on residential streets (which serve as pollinator pathways).
In total, more than 9,500 square metres of pollinator habitat will be created through the grants. The projects will also engage and educate the community through a variety of measures including signage, workshops, tours, videos, seed exchanges, community planting days, indigenous knowledge sharing, senior and youth programming, newcomer education, interpretive art and citizen science.
Congratulations to the groups listed below!
This project will create a pollinator corridor consisting of 15 pollinator patches along Appleton Ave. The project will result in a complex urban ecosystem and engage the community through planting days, speakers, children’s activities, and a community potluck.
The Argonaut Rowing Club is proposing a pollinator garden near the Martin Goodman trail. The project will create plant identifiers and signage that is easily visible from the Martin Goodman trail. The project is supported by a dedicated gardener and team of volunteers.
The Bain Butterfly Way project will create five pollinator gardens at the Bain Cooperative. The goals are to map and create a pollinator pathway that would connect our native plant species throughout the Bain, while also building a sense of stewardship for the land and an appreciation for native plant species. The community engagement and education plans include a community planting day, guided plant tours, and a partnership with a local school to co-create a pollinator-themed art project.
This project will create a pollinator community garden in Bell Manor Park. The community garden, which is part of the Community Health Centre’s Food Access Program, addresses the lack of space for growing in lower-income neighbourhoods and provides an alternative food source and access to community activities and connections among many cultural diverse circles. A component of the project will be to have AlterEden deliver four workshops to educate the community about the needs of pollinators.
This garden will be created on a non-profit community centre property that has been serving the community for 54 years. The Bernard Betel Centre currently holds 120 programs a week and the pollinator garden will be incorporated into their programming, allowing residents in the community to enjoy and learn more about pollinators.
The Carlton-Sherbourne Group is partnering with Dixon Hall to create multiple pollinator gardens in the front yards of Toronto Community Housing properties in the Cabbagetown area. This project aims to increase the vibrancy and resilience of the community through this beautification process. The goal is to build upon and nurture the pollinator patches and expand the project to all 23 Toronto Community Housing properties in the area.
CICS is a multi-service registered charity and a leader in serving immigrants in Toronto and the GTA for 50 years, helping newcomers develop a sense of inclusion and belonging in their new communities. CICS would like to introduce a pollinator garden to enhance their educational programming and their work towards building community connectedness and leadership skills around urban gardening.
This proposal from the Chester Eco Community will create a pollinator learning garden at Chester Elementary School, a Platinum EcoSchool. The school will create and maintain a year-round pollinator garden and promote the awareness and education of the role of pollinators and native species in our ecosystem, and provide enjoyment for students and the wider community.
The Church of the Resurrection will fill seven beds with native plants and shrubs to create habitat for bees, butterflies, and birds. The garden spaces will contain signage to educate the community about the need to support these creatures.
The parent council at Transfiguration of our Lord Catholic School will lead the creation of a pollinator teaching garden at the school. The goal is to provide pollinators with an additional resource in our neighbourhood by creating a pollinator garden and to educate the community.
This neighbourhood association is proposing a pollinator pathway that will create pollinator gardens at Danforth Gardens Public School, and transform several residential properties from lawns to pollinator habitat. The project will engage the community through garden tours and native plant sales to inspire others to transform their green spaces.
This proposal from David Hornell Elementary School and Mimico Residents Association will create three pollinator garden areas within David Hornell’s established eco school grounds. This initiative will help to revitalize David Hornell’s outdoor classroom and provide students with important eco-learning opportunities. This project will also provide significant benefit to the surrounding Mimico and neighbouring communities.
Evergreen Brick Works is located in the Don Valley ravine system and is a vital access point to nature for Torontonians. Evergreen works to promote and preserve native species and will transform the Tiffany Commons space into pollinator gardens. Evergreen welcomes nearly half a million visitors a year and with their contact through these gardens, visitors will be able to learn more about pollinator habitats.
Father John Redmond (FJR) Secondary School will create a pollinator garden that will provide benefits to the school, the Ken Cox Community Centre and the greater Lakeshore community. It would include the collaborative efforts of the biology department, Eco-club, and the parent council to build and maintain the garden. Wider school community including the Summer School courses and Ken Cox Community programs will also share in the regular care of the garden during summer months. The vision is that the pollinator garden would serve to invite the enjoyment of the school community and beyond, and at the same time, provide a necessary habitat for pollinators.
This group plans to build a community pollinator garden in Garrison Creek Park. The garden will engage over 50 families in the area already involved in urban gardening, serving as an educational tool for the public with signage, plant labels and tours. This pollinator garden will complement the existing pollinator murals located in the area as well as the Green Line project connecting green spaces in the city.
The pollinator garden will be one of the first community projects for this new community centre. The goal is to establish sustainability as one of the community’s priorities through the collaborative experience of growing a pollinator garden. The key elements of the project will be a garden design inspired by the rainbow flag, and educational workshops on pollinators, seed saving and seed starting.
Green Thumbs Growing Kids is a community group that have been growing plants with children, youth and families for 20 years. They are partnered with four schools in the Toronto District School Board to create and maintain pollinator gardens, used for experiential learning connected to curriculum objectives in the school year.
Greenland Public School is a platinum level Eco school with a long tradition of creating learning spaces, beautifying school grounds and educating children and the community of the importance of eco initiatives. The pollinator garden will be used as a teaching tool, Monarch waystation and tour site for the larger community.
This proposal is a school-community collaboration between the Harbord Collegiate Eco team and the Palmerston Area Residents Association (PARA) Green Committee. The goal of this project is the creation of two permanent pollinator gardens within the south-facing front yard of Harbord Collegiate and along Harbord Street. As part of meeting this goal, the garden will educate and engage students, staff and community on the importance of pollinators, native plants, biodiversity and organic gardening.
This group plans to introduce a community pollinator garden to an underused area in Walter Saunders Memorial Park. The garden expands the capacity of Hopewell Community Garden, allowing for increased participation and alternative horticultural learning opportunities for participants. The goal is to become a local resource for the public, schools and community groups wanting to learn more about horticulture, pollinators and the importance they play in our urban ecosystem.
Wandering Spirit School Parent Council is a group of dedicated volunteers and staff who have strong ties to the Indigenous community in Toronto. The project will create a garden that will provide opportunities for the school community to share cultural knowledge about pollinators and Indigenous plants with the surrounding community. The goal is to inspire others to plant native plants, create their own pollinator garden, and share information.
The King George Garden Committee is proposing a pollinator teaching garden at King George Junior Public School. The garden will space for students to engage in active learning about biodiversity, ecology, and stewardship. The garden will also be presented as a demonstration garden that encourages residents in the area to consider how their plant choices and gardening practices affect native pollinator species.
St. Anne’s Church invited NKG to care for the land adjacent to the church in 2013. With the help of committed volunteers, the space will be transformed into a shared community pollinator garden. NKG intends to offer culturally-rooted, indigenous educational opportunities for the community.
Six households at the intersection of Westlake and Westbrook Avenues will form the Neighbours4Nectar project, planting demonstration pollinator gardens in front yards to create a pollinator pathway, and engaging local residents in learning why pollinator gardens are important and how to establish them successfully. Open planting days, garden tours and pollinator-themed kids’ activities will involve a wide range of neighbours in the project.
The first phase of the Greenwood Pollinator Gardens includes three rain gardens on Alton Avenue and Sawden Avenue near Greenwood Park. The three rain gardens will capture and infiltrate at least 90% of annual rainfall from the roof downspouts. This will benefit the overall stormwater system in the neighbourhood, which is known to cause nuisance issues throughout Greenwood Park. As climate change increases the frequency and intensity of rainfall events, green infrastructure such as these rain gardens will help make the storm sewer system more resilient by retaining rainfall close to where raindrops hit the ground.
The Ravina Community Garden will transform an existing lawn bowling club space and create an experience for community members to directly engage with the plant and wildlife growing in the garden. The project proposes the creation of a stone wall for cavity nesting native pollinators. There will be educational opportunities for members of this intergenerational community garden to learn through hands-on experience of creating the garden.
The University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC) aims to create a pollinator-friendly campus. The project proposes the creation of four new pollinator gardens AND the enhancement of an existing butterfly garden. The project will use signage to raise awareness about native bees and outline the best practices to create a pollinator-friendly garden. Through the process of creating the gardens, students and staff will engage in awareness building activities (e.g. planting session, seed saving session, seed and plant sharing).
The Rouge Valley Foundation will be planting native flower species specifically selected for the native Bumblebees that are in dramatic decline, specifically American Bumble Bee and the Yellow Banded Bumble Bee. There will be four unused areas of the existing native garden area that will be planted with species designed to flower throughout the spring, summer and fall season. Each area will also be paired with a series of bumble bee nesting boxes that will be installed within the garden plots and monitored throughout the year to determine presence, abundance and species usage.
Scarborough Arts is a non-profit organization with over 40 years of service and is the only arts organization of its kind specifically serving residents from low-income, and newcomer populations in Scarborough. This project will engage participants (youth, adults) in arts and environmental education activities centred on pollinator-friendly plants, with the ultimate goal of planting a collaborative community pollinator garden at the Scarborough Arts’ home office.
The Scarborough Bluffs Community Association is proposing a community pollinator garden in Sandown Park. The goal is to encourage children to visit the park with their families and learn about pollinators. The final result can be used as an educational tool for future school projects on pollinators, native plants and environmental issues
The ECO Rangers at St. Wilfrid Catholic School have kept the students, staff and community involved in issues that are related to saving our Earth. Students and staff will work together to create a pollinator teaching garden. These gardens will enhance student learning by providing a natural, pleasing, relaxing setting and sparking discussions about the new additional plants and animals that they attract.
Sunshine Centres for Seniors was first established in 1970 with its flagship program, Camp Sunshine on Ward’s Island. The organization now comprises eight centres offering innovative and empowering programs for seniors and youth throughout Toronto. This project will create three pollinator gardens at the Parsonage building on Ward’s Island, providing opportunities for all who visit to learn about the importance of pollinators. The community will also be significantly involved in planting and maintaining the gardens.
Project Nectar will be an educational pollinator garden at the Toronto Heschel School. The goal is to give students, teachers, and community members an opportunity to learn about the important role that pollinators play in supporting local and global ecosystems as well as to contribute to Toronto’s ongoing effort to expand pollinator habitats. As a Jewish school, it is incumbent to care for the Earth as part of the concept of ‘Tikkun Olam’ or repairing the world. Project Nectar will be open to all community members and we will actively engage our neighbours in its construction and care. Project Nectar will be a hands-on way for students to explore how they fit into the complex ecological processes of nature.
This project proposes the creation of a community pollinator garden at the Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church at Woodbine and Danforth. Many residents engage with the space including three congregations within the church (English, Mandarin, Cantonese), “Kei Lok Yuen” senior’s group, children’s Sunday school, and daycare. This pollinator garden will beautify the site, engage the various groups using the site, and raise community awareness about the needs of pollinators.
The project will create a pollinator garden at Windermere United Church. The project will engage children from the church school, community cooking class, the on-site daycare (Windermere Kids) and the Swansea School of Dance, as well as many other groups that use the church building during the week.
Pollination is what allows plants to produce seeds, fruits, and new plants. In addition to being essential for food production, pollinators contribute to biodiversity and our natural landscape.
Toronto is home to over 360 species of native bees and 112 species of butterflies. Pollinators are in decline due to habitat loss, climate change and other stressors.
Habitat creation is key to supporting Toronto’s pollinators as it provides food and places to nest, reproduce, and overwinter in our city.
Pollinator habitat includes the following:
Ideal pollinator habitat features native plants that are locally-grown and pesticide-free.
This program is open to all non-profit groups located in the city of Toronto. To be eligible for funding, a group must have at least three Toronto residents that live in separate households.
Funding is not available for individuals or businesses.
The program supports projects that create pollinator habitat in Toronto. Projects must also educate and engage the community.
Examples of eligible projects include:
Each habitat creation project must include an educational component (e.g. signage, plant labels, etc) and involve the community (planting days, garden tours, etc).
Examples of projects the City will NOT fund include:
If you are unsure if your idea is eligible, please contact the PollinateTO Program Manager at pollinateTO@toronto.ca
The following documents are required to evaluate your project:
2020 – Grants will open in the fall. Specific dates will be posted soon.
2019 key dates:
|Applications open||March 1, 2019|
|Application deadline||May 1, 2019 at 5 pm|
|Review committee meets||May 2019|
|Applicants notified||June 2019|
|Site visits||July – October 2019|
|Orientation session||November 2019|
|Successful applicants finalize plans and budget||November 2019 – January 2020|
|Forms due||January 13, 2020|
|Successful applicants receive partial funding (80%)||February/March 2020|
|Projects delivered||One year from signing Funding
Agreement (February/March 2020 – February/March 2021)
|Final report due||March 2021 (or sooner)|
|Completed projects receive remaining funding (20%)||Within 60 days of proof of completion and final report received|
Please note: Timelines are subject to change
Please review the steps below before applying online.
Create your own group or join one that is already established. To be eligible, groups must include at least three Toronto residents that live in separate households. Select a Group Lead to be the main contact.
Choose garden sites that are open/visible to the public. Engage the property owner(s) and get their permission.
Create a work plan – decide what you want to do and how you will do it.
Put together an estimated budget of $1,000 to $5,000. See the Eligible Project Costs section for guidance.
Partner with others who can support your idea. Look for partners that have experience creating pollinator habitat and/or working in your community.
Get formal approval from the property owner(s) of the land where you want to plant.
If your project location is a City park, please ensure you have the support of the Park Supervisor before applying. Call 311 to connect.
If your project involves a school, you must receive approval from the principal and the School Board.
You must apply using the online application form. The Group Lead completes the application form.
Please wait to receive approval before you begin your project.
The following documents are required to evaluate your proposal:
To submit these documents, or any others, please upload them with your application form or email them to pollinateTO@toronto.ca
City staff will review your application to ensure eligibility requirements are met. An email confirming the application has been received will be sent.
Applications must be complete and received by the deadline to be eligible. A Review Committee will evaluate all eligible proposals.
Successful applicants will receive an approval letter via email and details about next steps.
PollinateTO Program staff will arrange for site visits at each approved project location(s). The Group Lead must attend the site visit. If your project is located at a school, the principal and/or School Board representative must also attend.
Successful applicants will attend an information session to learn more about the next steps, forms to be completed and the funding agreement. Groups will hear from an exciting lineup of expert speakers, covering a range of topics, including: native bees and butterflies, gardening with native plants, rain gardens, and more.
In order to release the grant funding award, your group must enter into a funding agreement with the City of Toronto. The funding agreement outlines roles, payments, reporting requirements and other conditions of the grant. The Group Lead will complete the required forms to have the funding agreement drafted. A draft funding agreement will be sent to your group via email. You are required to review this draft agreement and advise the City if you have any questions or revisions. Once you are satisfied with the draft agreement it can then be signed.
Most (approximately 80 per cent) of the funding will be provided in advance to get you started. The remaining (approximately 20 per cent) will be provided upon proof of completion.
Your group has one year from the time the funding is issued to complete your project.
As your project progresses, please notify the PollinateTO Program Manager about any events or milestones (such as groundbreaking, workshops, planting events, art installations, garden tours, etc.) so that we can help support and promote your project. We may also like to attend!
Grant recipients must acknowledge the financial assistance provided by the City of Toronto in program materials, communications and signage, including any promotional materials used in project activities.
Please notify the PollinateTO Program Manager when your project is complete. A site visit may be requested.
Your group will be responsible for submitting the following:
Here are some things to consider before submitting your application.
Funding can only be used for the direct delivery of the proposed project.
Examples of fundable budget line items:
Examples of budget line items that are not fundable:
A Review Committee will review applications and recommend funding using the following process:
Your group should consider the following best practices when designing pollinator habitat.
Please note: These are best practices only – not mandatory project requirements. See the Project Requirements section for what elements are mandatory.
Use this checklist to help you create or enhance pollinator-friendly habitat in your community.
Plant native: Choose native plants, trees and shrubs rich in pollen and nectar. Locally grown and pesticide free are best.
Plant host plants: Butterflies lay their eggs on specific plants. Monarch butterflies, for example, will only lay their eggs on milkweed, the sole food source for their larva.
Provide continuous bloom: Pollinators need a continuous source of food from spring to fall. Select a variety of plants with a range of bloom times.
Mass plantings: Planting multiples of the same plant together in large groupings makes it easier for pollinators to find and collect pollen and nectar.
Plant single bloom varieties: The petals of double or triple bloom varieties can block access to pollen and nectar.
Avoid nativars (native cultivars): These are named varieties and not the true native species. Studies have shown that many nativars are less beneficial (e.g. contain less pollen) than the true native species.
Bare ground: Many native bees build nests in soil, so leave some bare patches and limit your use of mulch.
Choose plants with hollow or pithy stems: Some cavity nesting bees use hollow or pithy stems to lay their eggs.
Leave dead stems: Bundles of sticks and stems that are put out for yard waste collection too early in spring will often contain overwintering bees.
Dead wood: Large branches and decaying logs can be kept in a sunny spot to provide additional shelter, resting sites for birds and nesting locations for bees and other wildlife.
Leaves: Leave the leaves where they fall or rake them into your garden to provide overwintering habitat for butterflies. Leaves can be removed in late spring, after overwintering adult butterflies are gone, or left in the garden to decompose.
Avoid tilling: Keep large patches of land unmown and untilled to provide secure and undisturbed nesting sites for ground-nesting bees.
Offer a drink: Pollinators need water. Add rocks for perch points to a birdbath or shallow dish of water to help bees and butterflies quench their thirst.
Create sunny spots: Butterflies like to bask in the sun.
Avoid pesticides: Don’t spray pesticides or insecticides, especially neonicotinoids. Ontario has a Pesticide Ban that prohibits the cosmetic use of pesticides.
Prevent the spread of invasive plants: Monitor your garden for invasive plants and remove them when detected. For example, the invasive dog-strangling vine has a negative impact on Monarchs – female butterflies mistakenly lay their eggs on it since it’s in the milkweed family, instead of native milkweeds, causing their larvae to starve.
Plant material is replaced: Monitor garden regularly for dead plants and replace accordingly in order to ensure healthy plant diversity.
Tell your friends and neighbours: Help spread the word about what pollinators need by sharing your experience with others. Let them know how they can create or enhance pollinator habitat on their property.
Offer tours of your garden: Inspire others to create pollinator gardens by showcasing yours. Identify plants and offer tips for success.
Install signage provided: Identify your garden as pollinator-friendly. Create your own sign or use PollinateTO sign.
Educational messaging should align with the guiding principles and priorities of the City’s Pollinator Protection Strategy. The following are best practices for designing a pollinator educational initiative funded by the PollinateTO Program.
Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA):
David Suzuki Foundation:
Canadian Wildlife Federation:
North American Native Plant Society:
Where to find native plants: