Applications are now open! Apply by January 8, 2021.

PollinateTO provides funding for pollinator gardens located in Toronto. This year, priority will be given to projects located in Toronto’s 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs). Gardens will be planted in 2021.

Program Overview

Through its PollinateTO grants program, the City funds 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:

  • Create pollinator gardens or rain gardens in your neighbourhood or at your school?
  • Enhance or expand existing gardens with native pollinator-friendly plants?

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.

Watch the videos below for inspiration!

Watch how Green Thumbs Growing Kids created pollinator gardens at schools in Toronto!

Why are pollinators important?

Toronto is home to a wide range of pollinators, including 364 species of bees and 112 species of butterflies. These insects provide important ecosystem services such as pollination, are an important source of food for birds, and contribute to the biodiversity in our city. Pollination is what allows plants to produce seeds, fruits, and new plants. This is essential for food production and creating o­ur natural landscapes.

Why should we be concerned about pollinators?

Pollinators are under increasing stress due to habitat loss, invasive species, diseases, pesticides and climate change. Studies have shown that some species are in drastic decline, including the endangered Monarch butterfly and several species of bumblebees.

How can we help Toronto’s pollinators?

The easiest and most effective way to help native pollinators is to plant native plants. By planting native plants, you will be providing much-needed habitat that native pollinators need to survive. Native plants provide pollen and nectar for food, as well as places to nest and overwinter. Pollinator habitat can be created almost anywhere – in parks, yards, apartment buildings, schools, faith centres, community gardens and more.

What is pollinator habitat?

Pollinator habitat includes the following:

  • food sources – such as pollen and nectar from native plants
  • nesting and overwintering sites – such as bare soil, hollow stems, and leaves
  • larval host plants – such as milkweed

Ideal pollinator habitat features native plants that are locally-grown and pesticide-free.

What are native plants?

Plants that existed in our ecoregion prior to European colonization are considered native. Toronto is located where the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region and the Carolinian Zone meet. Native pollinators have coevolved with native plants for over 100 million years and depend on each other for survival.

PollinateTO is open to all resident-led groups and non-profit groups. All groups must have at least three residents who make up the group.

Important Note: You must partner with a sponsoring organization to act as a trustee. There is more information below about selecting a trustee.

Eligible applicants

  • resident, tenant and neighbourhood groups
  • community groups and organizations
  • school groups, clubs and parent councils
  • business improvement areas (BIAs)
  • faith/church groups
  • indigenous groups
  • registered charitable organizations and not-for-profit organizations
  • not-for-profit organizations with offices outside of Toronto are eligible to apply for the grant if the proposed garden is located within an NIA.

Ineligible applicants

  • individuals (must be part of a group with at least three members)
  • for-profit businesses
  • building and property managers
  • grant making organizations
  • organizations allied with political parties

PollinateTO supports projects that create pollinator gardens in Toronto. Priority will be given to gardens located in Toronto’s Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs). Projects must also educate and engage the community.

Eligible projects

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • community gardens in City Parks
  • school ground teaching gardens
  • faith-based gardens
  • Indigenous education gardens
  • rain gardens
  • multiple front-yard gardens on the same street that together create a pollinator pathway/habitat corridor

Ineligible projects

Examples of projects the City will NOT fund include:

  • projects that are already fully complete
  • temporary projects not intended to last beyond one growing season
  • projects that are not visible to the public, such as private backyard gardens
  • beekeeping activities, education or promotion
  • gardens used for the sole purpose of urban agriculture
  • balcony gardens and container gardens
  • rooftop gardens (funding is available for green roofs via the Eco-Roof Incentive Program.

If you are unsure if your idea is eligible, please contact the PollinateTO Program Manager at pollinateTO@toronto.ca

Projects must:

  • be physically located in Toronto
  • be visible to the community
  • directly result in the creation of pollinator habitat
  • include an educational component to inform others about pollinator stewardship
  • involve the community in some way
  • be completed within one year of receiving funding

Pollinator garden requirements:

  • must contain a minimum of twelve plants
  • at least 75 per cent of plants must be native species
  • at least one type of native goldenrod species must be used
  • at least two different types of larval host plants must be used, one of which must be milkweed
  • plants must provide continuous bloom:
    • at least 2 species that bloom in the spring
    • at least 2 species that bloom in the summer
    • at least 2 species that bloom in the fall
  • no invasive plant species may be used
  • must select plants based on site conditions (e.g. full sun/partial sun/shade, wet/dry, etc)
  • must have ongoing maintenance (watering, weeding, plant replacement, etc)

You can use the Plant List Chart template to help you organize your plant choices.

Required plants:

Gardens must include at least one species of goldenrod and at least one species of milkweed.

Goldenrod (Solidago

Goldenrod blooms in the late summer and early fall. Their deep golden colour stands out in the fall when many summer blooms have faded out. You may have heard that goldenrod is responsible for allergies, but this is an old misconception. The plant responsible for allergies is ragweed, which flowers at the same time.

Recognized as a keystone species (which means other species in an ecosystem largely depend on it), goldenrod serves as both host and food source to a wide array of insects, moths and caterpillars. Monarch butterflies, bees, caterpillars and birds will benefit from all that goldenrod has to offer.

There are over 100 species of goldenrod. Here are a few goldenrod species to consider for your garden that are easy to grow, drought tolerant and easy to find:

Sun: Shade:
Stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida) Zig-zag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
Grey-stemmed (Solidago nemoralis) Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
Early goldenrod (Solidago juncea)

Learn more and see photos of these goldenrod species.

 

Milkweed (Asclepias)

Milkweed is the larval host plant for the endangered Monarch butterfly. Monarchs will only lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, which is the sole food source for caterpillars. Without milkweed, there would be no Monarchs.

There was a time in Ontario that milkweed was on the noxious weed list, which meant it could not be planted. In 2014, milkweed was removed from Ontario’s noxious weed list and since then many gardeners have embraced milkweed in their garden.

There are 14 species of milkweed in Canada. Here are a few suggestions for milkweed species to consider for your garden and one non-native milkweed species to avoid.

Plant in dry areas: Plant in wet areas: Do not plant:
Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) Swamp milkweed

(Asclepias incarnate)

Tropical milkweed

(Asclepias curassavica)

This is not native to Canada,

but is often sold in garden centres.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
Purple milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens)
Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

Learn more and see photos of these milkweed species.

Complete the online application

Applications will be accepted from November 16 to January 8, 2021.

Apply now

Submit supporting documents

The following documents are required to evaluate your project:

  1. Property owner permission – letter or email from the property owner giving permission to use the land. For school ground projects, support from the principal is required. Use the Property Owner Permission template (Word doc).
  2. Photograph or google map image of the proposed project site(s)
  3. Plant list – showing proposed species and number of plants. Use the Plant List Chart template (Word doc).
  4. Maintenance plan – a description of how the garden(s) will be cared for and who is responsible for the long term success of the project. Use the Garden Maintenance Plan template (Word doc).
  5. Budget – an estimated list of the costs to deliver your project. Use the Budget template (Excel doc).

To submit these documents, or any others, please upload them with your application form or email them to pollinateTO@toronto.ca

 

Applications open November 16, 2020
Application deadline January 8, 2021
Application review January/February 2021
Applicants notified March 2021
Online orientation session March 2021
Successful applicants receive partial funding (90%) April 2021
Gardens planted Spring/Summer 2021
Completion and evaluation March 2022 (or sooner)
Completed projects receive remaining funding (10%) 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.

Step 1: Form your group & partner with others

Create your own group or join one that is already established in your community. Partner with others who can support your idea.

To be eligible, groups must include at least three Toronto residents.

Decide on a name for your Group. Select a Group Lead to be the main contact.

Step 2: Pick your garden location & get approval

Make a list of potential garden locations in your neighbourhood. Choose garden sites that are open/visible to the public, have access to water and are easy for your group to get to (walking distance is ideal).

Engage with the property owner of the land – share your idea and seek their approval.

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 have support from the principal.

Use the Property Owner Permission template (Word doc) provided.

Step 3: Create a project plan & estimated budget

Decide on a name for your Project (this is different from your Group name).

Create a community engagement and education plan – think about the best ways to involve the community in your project. See the Community Engagement and Education Ideas section for ideas.

Put together an estimated budget of $1,000 to $5,000. See the Eligible Project Costs section for guidance. Please use the budget template (Excel doc) provided.

Step 4: Select a Trustee

You must partner with a sponsoring organization to act as a trustee. The trustee will administer your group’s grant funds. See the Selecting a Trustee section for more details.

Step 5: Complete the online application & submit supporting documents

You must apply using the online application form before the deadline. The Group Lead, Trustee or Partner Organization can complete the application form.

The following documents are required to evaluate your proposal:

  1. Property owner permission – letter or email from the property owner giving permission to use the land. For school ground projects, support from the principal is required. Use the Property Owner Permission template (Word doc).
  2. Photograph or google map image of the proposed project site(s)
  3. Plant list – showing proposed species and number of plants. Use the Plant List Chart template (Word doc).
  4. Maintenance plan – a description of how the garden(s) will be cared for and who is responsible for the long term success of the project. Use the Garden Maintenance Plan template (Word doc).
  5. Budget – an estimated list of the costs to deliver your project. Use the Budget template (Excel doc).

Step 6: Application review & project approval

The PollinateTO Team will review your application to ensure eligibility requirements are met. Applications must be complete and received by the deadline to be eligible.

A Review Committee will evaluate all eligible proposals. Priority will be given to project located Toronto’s 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas (NIAs).

Successful applicants will receive an approval letter via email and details about next steps.

Step 7: Online orientation session

Successful applicants will attend an online information session to learn more about the next steps.

Step 8: Funding agreement drafted & signed

In order to release the grant funding award, your Trustee 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.

Step 9: Start your project

Most (approximately 90 per cent) of the funding will be provided in advance to get you started. The remaining (approximately 10 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 participate!

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.

Step 10: Complete your project

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:

  • Impact report: Tell us about your project! Please include photos of your completed project, testimonials or other items to show the impact of your project and evidence of completion. A template will be provided.
  • Expense summary: Your trustee will report the actual costs of your project with supporting receipts and invoices.
  • Video: Please create a short video (one to two minutes) of your completed project and tell us what you accomplished. We’ll post your video online to share your story and inspire others.

How will your project educate and engage the community? Some ideas you might consider:

  • offering demonstrations, workshops, or garden tours
  • installing informative signage, plant labels or interpretive art
  • inviting the community to participate in planting, maintenance, and celebratory activities
  • engaging users of the green space (youth, teachers, seniors, families and others) to participate in planning, implementing and/or maintaining your project
  • developing an online tool, webinar or instructional video
  • creating toolkits, how-to guides, lesson plans, and/or teaching activities
  • collecting seeds, sharing plants and/or helping others start their own garden
  • participating in citizen science projects and community research

Funding can only be used for the direct delivery of the proposed project.

A budget template is available to help you plan your project.

What the City will fund

Examples of fundable budget line items:

  • Plant material – seeds, seedlings
  • Soil, compost, peat, mulch, sand, etc
  • Tools – shovels, rakes, forks, cultivators, hoes, spades, pruners, hand tools, etc
  • Garden gloves, knee pads and kneelers
  • Irrigation supplies – hose, nozzles, wands, rain barrels, watering cans
  • Wheelbarrows and garden carts
  • Garden border materials and supplies – wood, logs, stones, pavers, rocks, etc
  • Porous pathway materials – stepping stones, gravel, wood chips
  • Seed starting materials – trays, pots, soil, markers (greenhouses are not eligible)
  • Plant supports – stakes, rings, poles, ties, string, twine
  • Sheet mulching materials – cardboard, newspapers, leaves, compost/soil
  • Rain garden materials and construction supplies (sand, compost, mulch, riverstone, pea gravel, limestone, pvc piping)
  • Raised beds – materials and supplies
  • Plant identification markers and tags
  • Signage – design, printing, installation
  • Outdoor storage – weather resistant bins, small shed, lock
  • Yard waste bags
  • Equipment rentals (no gas powered equipment)
  • Permit fees, space rental, liability insurance for your event/activity
  • Delivery fees for plant material and supplies (max $100 per delivery)
  • Volunteer recognition, volunteer food expenses
  • Food and refreshments (no bottled water) for participants during planting activity (max $200 per event)
  • Training and workshop expenses
  • Honorarium for speakers/facilitators (max $500 per person, per event)
  • Honorarium for group members (up to $500 per group)
  • Communications and promotion (e.g. flyers, posters, design, printing)
  • Interpretation and translation fees
  • Art supplies
  • Solitary bee nest building supplies (bee condos, bee hotels, etc)
  • Books – reference, gardening, flora and fauna identification guides
  • Public transportation costs for project participants
  • Labour costs to prepare the area and plant the garden, if required (up to 10% of the grant amount)
  • Removing asphalt, concrete or other hard surfaces, if required (up to 10% of the grant amount)
  • Consultant fees such as a landscape designer, rain garden expert, etc (up to 10% of the grant amount)
  • Staffing costs for organizing project (up to 10% of the grant amount)
  • Trustee administration fees (up to 10% of the grant amount)
  • Other expenses on a case-by-case basis (please check with City staff prior to purchasing)

What the City will not fund

Examples of budget line items that are not fundable:

  • Costs associated with the regular operation of your organization, current programs and services such as office rental, utilities, computer equipment, phones, fax, internet, accounting services, insurance, etc.
  • Mass market advertising campaigns
  • Award ceremonies, banquets, receptions,  annual general meetings, sport tournaments
  • Religious activities/services, political activities, fundraising events, donations to charitable causes, lobbying or advocacy on behalf of for-profit entities
  • Alcohol
  • Bottled water
  • Gas and gas powered tools and equipment
  • Land acquisition, lease or rental
  • Purchase or rental of media equipment (computers, laptops, or software)
  • Purchase or rental of vehicles, personal vehicle expenses and parking
  • Postage and shipping costs
  • Disbursement of funds to provide additional grants to other parties
  • Conference registration and travel fees
  • TTC monthly passes
  • Reserve funds, debt repayment, deficit funding, capital costs (i.e. building repairs, renovations, water service, etc)
  • Fencing, gates, wire mesh
  • Armour stone
  • Garden furniture – plastic patio sets, umbrellas
  • Greenhouses
  • Barbeques, cooking equipment
  • Chemical fertilizers
  • Vermiculture supplies (worm composters)
  • Mushroom logs
  • Container gardening planters and supplies, including canoes
  • Beekeeping supplies, hives, honey bees
  • Water fountain or water connection service
  • Pesticides
  • Activities that extend beyond Toronto’s borders
  • Costs to maintain activities beyond the funding term, ongoing garden maintenance

Groups that do not have official not-for-profit status must work with a trustee organization to receive funding.

The trustee organization should have knowledge about the issues your project addresses or experience in the community your group works with. It could be an organization that your group is currently working with or has worked with in the past.

What is a Trustee Organization?

A trustee is an incorporated not-for-profit organization with audited financial statements and the financial systems in place to administer your group’s grant funds.

A trustee will distribute the funding according to the approved project budget. Trustees can also provide additional support to funded groups, such as project management and mentorship.

Who can be a Trustee Organization?

Trustee organizations must meet all of the following eligibility criteria and be approved by City staff to act as your trustee:

  • Be an incorporated not-for-profit organization with recent audited financial statements;
  • Demonstrate effective management and administrative capacity;
  • Be based in the city of Toronto (this means the organization’s head office must be located in Toronto and a majority of their programs and services take place in Toronto);
  • Be accountable to the community it serves through an elected Board of Directors or executive and must represent the community it serves;
  • 50% or more of Board members reside in the City of Toronto, or 50% or more of the organization budget is allocated to Toronto;
  • Have existed for at least one year;
  • Be in good standing with the City of Toronto (be up to date on all requirements for any City funds the organization may have received in the past);
  • Collaborate with other service providers and community groups;
  • Demonstrate a clear separation between religious and community service functions (if religious activities are provided by the organization);
  • Comply with the City of Toronto Anti-racism, Access and Equity Policy;
  • Have a service mandate related to the funded project;
  • Agree to take responsibility for the management of financial and project activities proposed by the applicant organization; and
  • Report on the use of grant funds to the City and maintain documentation for audit purposes.

What are the Roles & Expectations of the Trustee?

The trustee organization:

  • Holds financial authority and a position of trust and responsibility for the project grant funds;
  • The trustee provides support and guidance to the grant recipient’s project leadership throughout the project;
  • Maintains proper fiscal oversight including using their existing financial systems and policies when dispersing the grant funds to your group (i.e. petty cash disbursements, honoraria, invoice payment, expense reimbursements etc.);
  • Has overall legal responsibility for the grant funds;
  • Provides assurance that all funding received will be spent only for the purposes outlined in the Trustee Agreement and in the Letter of Understanding and according to the approved project budget;
  • Acts as the project’s financial and administrative manager for the duration of your project;
  • Ensures compliance with accountability and legislative requirements; and
  • Signs the Letter of Understanding issued by the City with the grant recipient group. The Letter of Understanding outlines the terms and conditions of the grant funding.

The trustee organization should not:

  • Determine or heavily influence the creation of the project;
  • Take on the role of a group member or project manager

Trustee Fees

Trustee organizations may charge fees for their services. The fee arrangement should be included in the Trustee Agreement.

The PollinateTO program allocates funding for trustee fees of up to 10% of the grant. If you will be working with a trustee, please account for the trustee fee in your proposed budget.

The Trustee Agreement

A Trustee Agreement is a formal agreement between your group and your Trustee organization. City of Toronto staff must approve the Trustee Agreement before funds will be paid. Your group and the trustee organization will need to write your own agreement together.

 

A Review Committee will review applications and recommend funding using the following process:

  1. Applications will be reviewed by City staff to ensure that your group and project are eligible.
  2. Complete applications that meet the eligibility requirements will be evaluated by a Review Committee comprised of representatives of various City of Toronto divisions. The review is a detailed evaluation of the proposals, including identification of irregularities and/or missing information as well as the feasibility of the proposed project. Priority will be given to projects located Toronto’s 31 Neighbourhood Improvement Areas.
  3. The Review Committee will make funding recommendations to the Director, Environment and Energy Division based on their assessment of the following elements of each application:
    1. organizational history and track record
    2. proposal’s ability to meet the goals and objectives of the program
    3. organizational readiness to undertake the proposed work
    4. likelihood of generating measurable results and likelihood of success;
    5. long-term sustainability of the project
    6. use of strategies and tools to engage and educate the community, including new audiences who have not been targeted by previous initiatives.

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.

Best practices for creating pollinator habitat

Use this checklist to help you create or enhance pollinator-friendly habitat in your community.

1. Provide food sources

Plant native: Choose native plants, trees and shrubs rich in pollen and nectar. Locally grown and pesticide free are best.

  • At least 75% of plants are native species
  • At least one species of goldenrod must be used
  • If using non-native plants, invasive species are to be avoided

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.

  • Incorporate at least 2 different types of larval host plants
  • At least one species of native milkweed is to be included

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.

  • At least 2 different plants that bloom in spring
  • At least 2 different plants that bloom in summer
  • At least 2 different plants that bloom in fall

Mass plantings: Planting multiples of the same plant together in large groupings makes it easier for pollinators to find and collect pollen and nectar.

  • Plants are planted in groups of 3 or more (at least 3 plants per species)

Plant single bloom varieties: The petals of double or triple bloom varieties can block access to pollen and nectar.

  • Single bloom varieties only

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.

  • Try to avoid using nativars and stick to the true native species (if possible)

2. Provide nesting sites

Bare ground: Many native bees build nests in soil, so leave some bare patches and limit your use of mulch.

  • Limited use of mulch – if you must use mulch only use at base of plant with areas of open bare soil provided
  • When using mulch opt for hay or straw mulch, which is a better alternative to wood chips.

Choose plants with hollow or pithy stems: Some cavity nesting bees use hollow or pithy stems to lay their eggs.

Hollow-stemmed plants:

  • Cup Plant
  • Sunflowers
  • Goldenrod
  • Echinacea
  • Spotted Joe Pye Weed
  • Swamp Milkweed
  • Wild Bergamot

Pithy-stemmed plants:

  • Elderberry
  • Raspberry
  • Rose
  • Sumac

3. Provide water

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.

  • Water source provided or nearby (does not have to be directly in the garden)

4. Provide sun

Create sunny spots: Butterflies like to bask in the sun.

  • Place flat rocks in sunny, sheltered spots

5. Provide a chemical free zone

Avoid pesticides: Don’t spray pesticides or insecticides, especially neonicotinoids. Ontario has a Pesticide Ban that prohibits the cosmetic use of pesticides.

  • Pesticides will not be used on site at any time

6. Be mindful about maintenance

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.

  • Bottom 8 inches of dead stems are left in place
  • Cut stems are bundled and left in garden.
  • Wait until the temperature is consistently above 10 degree Celsius before you remove dead stems.

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.

  • Dead branches or logs are incorporated in garden

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.

  • Leaves are raked into garden in the fall

Avoid tilling: Keep large patches of land unmown and untilled to provide secure and undisturbed nesting sites for ground-nesting bees.

  • Ground is not tilled

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.

  • Invasive species are removed or reported when detected (Call the Province of Ontario at 1-800-563-7711).

Plant material is replaced: Monitor garden regularly for dead plants and replace accordingly in order to ensure healthy plant diversity.

  • Plant material that does not survive is replaced as required.

7. Spread the word

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.

  • Each project participant shares with one other person

Offer tours of your garden: Inspire others to create pollinator gardens by showcasing yours. Identify plants and offer tips for success.

  • Annual garden tour offered (upon request)

Install signage provided: Identify your garden as pollinator-friendly. Create your own sign or use the PollinateTO sign.

  • Signage installed

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.

1. Incorporate the following key messages:

  • Toronto is home to a wide range of pollinators, including bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and birds.
  • Threats to Toronto’s pollinators include forage habitat loss, loss of larval host plants, nesting habitat loss, overwintering habitat loss, pesticides, introduced and invasive species (including honey bees), diseases/pests, and climate change.
  • Habitat loss is the greatest threat to pollinators. Habitat protection, creation and enhancement is key to supporting Toronto’s pollinators.

2. Raise awareness about the differences between native bees and non-native honey bees

  • Toronto’s diverse bee community consists of over 360 species of native bees and one species of managed bee, the European Honey Bee, which is not native to North America.
  • Native bees are primarily solitary, don’t make honey, live underground or cavities, come in a wide range of colours and sizes.
  • Honey bees are not native to North America, managed by beekeepers, and they can be re-established when beekeepers experience a loss.
  • Native bee species are more threatened than honey bees.
  • Mention that Toronto has an Official BeeAgapostemon virescens.

3. Discuss alternatives to beekeeping

  • Many well-meaning individuals may wish to pursue hobby beekeeping in the belief that this is how they can help pollinators. Adding more honey bee colonies to the city without the habitat to support them, adds to the problem.
  • Evidence suggests that native bees may be negatively impacted by urban beekeeping activities. Studies have shown that honey bees may act as an additional stressor on native bees, due to competition for food and the spread of diseases and pests. One honey bee colony can potentially out-compete thousands of native bees for food.
  • Establishing a pollinator garden, or adding pollinator-friendly plants to an existing garden is a much more significant way to help pollinators, including honey bees.

4. How can we help? Pollinators need:

  • Foraging resources – native flowering plants rich in pollen and nectar
  • Larval host plants – butterflies can only lay their eggs on specific plants (eg. monarch and milkweed)
  • Places to nest and overwinter – bare sandy soil, hollow stems, dead wood, leaf litter, etc
  • A chemical free environment – insecticides (especially neonicotinoids) are the most harmful. Toronto’s Pesticide Ban has been in place since 2003.

5. Acknowledge funding support from the City of Toronto

  • On your website, direct participants to www.livegreentoronto.ca for more resources.
  • On all project-related communications and marketing materials, including garden signage, posters, brochures, signage, your newsletter, presentations, videos, etc.
  • At project-related events

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!

 

Group: Appleton Ave. Community Organization Project: Appleton Ave. Pollinator Corridor
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.
Group: Argonaut Rowing Club Project: Argonaut Growing Club Pollinator Project
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.
Group: Bain Butterfly Way Project: The Bain Butterfly Way Project
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.
Group: Bell Manor Pollinators Project: Bell Manor Park Community Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Bernard Betel Centre Project: Bernard Betel Centre Community Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Carlton-Sherbourne Garden Group Project: Rooming House Beeuties
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.
Group: Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS) Project: The ENRICH Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Chester School Pollinator Garden Team Project: Chester School Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Church of the Resurrection Project: Resurrection Garden
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.
Group: CSPC – Transfiguration Project: Transfiguration Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Danforth Gardens Neighbourhood Association Project: Danforth Gardens Neighbourhood Pollinator Corridor
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.
Group: David Hornell Junior School & Mimico Residents Association Project: David Hornell Pollinator Gardens
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.
Group: Evergreen Project: Pollinator Revitalization Project
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.
Group: FJR Pollinator Group Project: FJR Pollinator Project
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.
Group: Garrison Creek Park Community Garden (GCPCG) Project: Garrison Creek Park Pollinator Gardens
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.
Group: George Chuvalo Community Center Project: GCCC Gardens
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.
Group: Green Thumbs Growing Kids Project: Flower Power
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.

Watch video See how Green Thumbs Growing Kids created pollinator gardens at schools in Toronto!

Group: Greenland & Community Butterflyway Pollinator Garden Project: Pollinator Waystation
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.
Group: Harbord Collegiate Institute & Palmerston Area Residents Association Project: Harbord Collegiate PARA Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Hopewell Community Garden Project: Hopewell Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Kapapamahchakwew Parent Council, (Wandering Spirit School Parent Council) Project: Gitigaan
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.
Group: King George Junior Public School Parent Council Project: King George Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: Naadmaagit Ki (NKG) “Helpers of the Earth” Project: Aamoog, Memengwaag miinwaa Nenookaasiwag (Bees, Butterflies & Hummingbirds)
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.
Group: Neighbours4Nectar Project: Neighbours4Nectar
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.
Group: Rain Gardens United (RGU) Project: Greenwood Pollinator Rain Gardens
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.
Group: Ravina Community Garden Project: Ravina Community Garden Pollinator Project
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.
Group: Regenesis Pollinate UTSC (University of Toronto Scarborough Campus)
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).
Group: Rouge Valley Foundation Project: Bombus Native Garden Project
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.
Group: Scarborough Arts Project: Pollinator Art – Planting and Botanical Illustration Program
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.
Group: Scarborough Bluffs Community Association Project: Bluffs Pollinator Garden
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.
Group: St. Wilfrid Catholic School Project: ECO Rangers School Grounds Greening Project
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.
Group: Sunshine Centres for Seniors Project: Sunshine Pollinator Gardens: Seniors and Youth Bee-utify Our Community
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.
Group: The Toronto Heschel School Project: Project Nectar
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.
Group: Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church Project: Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church Community Garden
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.
Group: Windermere United Church Project: Windermere United Church and Friends’ Pollinator Project
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.