Human and Social Services

Parks, Forestry & Recreation

Parks, Forestry & Recreation What We Do

Parks, Forestry and Recreation provides a wide variety of leisure and recreation opportunities that include all Toronto residents while operating and maintaining parks, playing fields, playgrounds, recreation centres and amenities, along with trails, forests, meadows, marshes, and ravines.

2016 Operating Budget Overview

The total cost to deliver these services to Toronto residents is $448.599 million gross and $314.395 million net.

For 2016, Parks, Forestry and Recreation faced pressures mainly due to impacts from 2015 approved new service investments, prior year impacts from the opening of new recreation facilities, operating impacts of capital, progression pay and economic factors.  Through base reductions and revenue adjustments of $7.150 million, Parks, Forestry and Recreation was able to partially offset pressures to $6.185 million net, reflecting a 2.0% increase over the 2015 Net Operating Budget.

Our Service Deliverables for 2016

Parks, Forestry and Recreation offers a diverse range of leisure and recreation programming while operating and maintaining its physical and natural assets.  The 2016 Preliminary Operating Budget will enable the Program to: 

  • Deliver instructional and drop-in recreation programs for all ages that teach a new skill or improve the competency level in a variety of activities including swimming, skating, summer and holiday camps, fitness, sports and arts.
  • Provide self-directed recreational opportunities through permits for recreational facilities such as ice rinks, facilities, parks and sports fields to individuals and community groups. 
  • Provide clean, safe and well-maintained green space, park amenities and beaches.
  • Manage and maintain natural areas through restoration and preservation activities.
  • Operate two animal attractions in the City of Toronto.
  • Provide transportation services to Toronto Island Park through Ferry Operations.
  • Maintain in a state of good repair and enhance the urban forest asset through investment in new trees, protection and maintenance of the existing asset, and planning for the future.
  • Undertake a Business Transformation project in recreation and permit management to review existing business processes and organizational structure for permitting as well as a technology solution.
  • Over the next two years Parks, Forestry and Recreation will be participating in the development of key policies to guide parks system enhancement, including the TOcore study with City Planning, Parkland Acquisition Strategy and Parks and Recreation Facilities Master Plan.  

  Fast Facts

  • 1.1 million hours of Instructional and Leisure Drop-in Recreation programs with 9.3 million participant visits.
  • 4,400 Ha of maintained parkland with 1.4 million booked permit hours.
  • 8 Blue Flag beaches.
  • 16,000 Toronto Island ferry trips carrying 1.2 million passengers.
  • 450,000 Urban Forestry work orders and 105,000 trees to be planted in 2016.
  • 800,000 permit bookings and program registrations.                                    


  • Recreation service hours are increasing by 23,050 hours or 3.9% from 2013 to 2015 as a result of new major recreation facilities in 2014 and 2015. Future year hours are projected to increase to 1.7 million due to growth from new facilities.

Our Key Issues & Priority Actions

  • The 2013-2017 Recreation Service Plan is focused on increasing participation, reducing financial barriers, ensuring equitable access and improving program and service quality.
    • The 2016 Operating Budget includes the annualized cost of $0.778 million net to continue implementing the recreation service plan initiative of Community Centres Where Programs are Free.
    • The budget also includes $0.211 million new and enhanced funding to continue implementing the Swim to Survive Program Expansion.
  • Urban Forestry continues to address the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) infestation until 2019 while maintaining core service levels.
    • $14.2 million for Year 6 of the EAB Plan and $8.1 million of funding for the Urban Forestry Service Plan will be available in 2016

2016 Operating Budget Highlights

  • The 2016 Operating Budget for Parks, Forestry and Recreation of $445.638 million in gross expenditures provides funding for three services, Community Recreation, Parks and Urban Forestry.
  • The Program has reduced significant pressures from the annualized impacts for new and enhanced service priorities approved in 2015 and the operating impacts of new parks and recreation facilities by:
    • The identification of sustainable, on-going savings including line by line reductions ($2.452 million)
    • Continuous improvement initiatives that result in efficiency savings ($0.398 million).
    • The Program has achieved a below inflation increase without impacting on Council approved Service Levels.

2016 – 2025 Capital Budget and Plan Overview

Parks, Forestry and Recreation provides a wide range of leisure and recreation opportunities to Toronto residents while operating and maintaining its assets.  

The primary focus of the 2016-2025 Capital Budget and Plan totalling $1.191 billion is to preserve and protect existing assets in a state of good repair while meeting the demands of an expanding and changing City for improvement and growth in service delivery. 

The 10-Year Capital Plan provides funding for service improvement projects for park development and playground enhancements, new ferry boats for the Toronto Islands, a new pool at Wellesley Community Centre, and the replacement of the Don Mills Civitan Arena.

Growth related initiatives such as the construction of the North East Scarborough Community Centre, Western North York Community Centre, Bessarion Community Centre, 40 Wabash Parkdale Community Centre, and Railway Lands Community Centre will be completed over the 10-year planning horizon.

Where does the money go?

The 2016–2025 Capital Budget and Plan totalling $1,191.328 million provides funding for:

  • Land Acquisitions
  • Outdoor Recreation Centres
  • Park Development
  • Playground & Water Play Areas
  • Parking Lots & Tennis Courts
  • Pools
  • Arenas
  • Community Centres
  • Special Facilities
  • Trails & Pathways
  • Environmental Initiatives
  • Facilities Components
  • Information Technology

 Where does the money come from?

  • New debt funding of $669.959 million comprises 56.3% of the Program's 10-year capital funding.
  • Capital financing of $146.670 million or 12.3% will be provided from various reserve funds.
  • Development Charges of $228.733 million or 19.2% will fund growth and service improvement projects.  
  • Other Revenues (Section 37, Section 42 Alternate Rate cash-in-lieu, and Section 45) totalling $142.946 million account for 12.0%.
  • Federal funding of $2.000 million from the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (CIP 150).

State of Good Repair Backlog

The 10-Year Capital Plan includes cash flow funding of $633.879 million for State of Good Repair to address the backlog.  The SOGR backlog as a % of asset replacement value will decrease from 17.4% in 2016 to 4.8% in 2025.

Key Issues & Priority Actions

State of Good Repair Backlog – Reducing the accumulated backlog continues to be a priority and undertaking regular condition surveys to monitor the backlog are critical to managing this need and planning future estimates.

  • $633.879 million in SOGR funding is included in the 10-Year Capital Plan to address the backlog. 
Playground Enhancement Program – There are 858 playgrounds across the City.  In 2016, the playgrounds replacements will increase from 10 to 22 per year on a rotating basis. 
  • An additional of $16.320 million is dedicated to playground improvements in multiple park locations.

2016 Capital Budget Highlights

The 2016 Capital Budget for Parks, Forestry and Recreation of $151.683 million, excluding carry forward funding, will:

  • Begin the design of the Toronto Island ferry to meet the specific needs of transporting passengers year-round ($3.000 million);
  • Complete the construction of the York Community Centre ($5.876 million);
  • Start the construction of the Wellesley Community Centre Pool ($3.0 million);
  • Begin the requirements definition phase of major information system replacements including the Work Management System ($2.0 million), Registration, Permitting & Licensing System ($1.000 million) and Business Performance Management System ($1.200 million);
  • Continue with development of Grange Park ($3.720 million);Bellevue Square ($1.201 million ); and McCowan District Park ($2.020 million); and
  • Complete Berczy Park Construction ($2.175 million); and Linear Art Park ($1.438 million).