Kyle Baptista (centre), coordinator of park projects and communications with the alliance Park People, spoke with Scarborough residents on how to effectively engage social media into community park projects.

Community members discuss local park maintenance

Learn how to deal with city council and staff

A Toronto alliance for better parks met Dec. 7 to establish effective ways to build and restore city parks in the GTA.

The meeting was held by a group called Park People at the Hilltop Community Centre near Warden Avenue and St. Clair Avenue.

Nancy Lowes from the City of Toronto’s Park, Forestry and Recreation for the East District, spoke with residents on how to effectively communicate with city council and staff.

“When you want to address an issue that you may have with your community park, your general form of single contact would be with the supervisor of the park,” Lowes said.

Each park in Toronto has someone in charge of one park or a group of others. A supervisor is assigned by the city to look after the maintenance of parks; this ensures it meets the required needs of the community. The Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation is split up into three separate branches: Parks, Urban Forestry and Community Recreation.

“I think the city does a great job considering the different departments they have,” said John Mason, president of Guildwood Parks and Gardens. “Right now our group is trying to integrate strategic ways into building a water fountain and restrooms for our park.”

The workshops also provided information on how to address fundraising and partnerships. Doug Bennet from the City’s Partnership Development Unit told residents how to connect with the right contacts.

“You can partner up with the development unit office,” Bennet said. “They can get you in touch with an organization called the Toronto Parks and Trees foundation, which is great because you can get funding for your community park without becoming a charitable project.

The workshops also addressed the importance of maintaining an online presence to actively engage with the community.

Kyle Baptista, coordinator and communications leader for the Park People, outlined ways to progressively interact with people on the internet.

“One of the major things people need to know is how important it is to reach your audience when caring for your community parks,” Baptista said. “Having a website is essential because you will be able to reach several people at once. Social media groups like Facebook and Twitter will also allow your community to reach a wider range of people.”

During the forum, the Park People showed clips of two communities that took on projects to bring about positive change. The Malvern Action for Community Change was a project managed by local residents. They participated in tasks like water maintenance, community cleanup and gardening in the city’s east end.