International PARKing Day Installation in Toronto

PARKing Day has become a global event where engaged citizens, professionals of the built environment, and community activists come together to create temporary public space out of public parking spaces on urban streets. PARKing Day originally began as an experimental tactical public space installation in a public parking space in San Francisco, CA in 2005. Since then it has become an annual open-source event coordinated on the third Friday in September. The ethos of PARKing Day is to celebrate the use of urban public space for people and challenge the dominance of the automobile in cities. The event draws attention to the need for improving access and quantity of public open spaces in densely populated urban areas as well as the need for these spaces to provide social and environmental engagement.

U of T students mark global day for public use of city streets by taking over Toronto parking spot: U of T News

U of T students take over a parking space on Bloor Street West to mark PARKing Day, a global effort to draw attention to the need for public space (photo by Gabriella Shiyuan Zhao)A group of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of departments across the University of Toronto planned a PARKing Day installation for September 2019. This project raises awareness of the deficiencies in public spaces in Toronto and provide an enjoyable public space – even just for one day.

This project and collective organization first began as a class assignment in the Winter 2019 term for the undergraduate geography course Urban Landscapes and Planning (GGR217). For a course assignment, sessional instructor and PhD candidate, Kelly Gregg, asked the students to develop their own proposal for a PARKing Day installation in Toronto. Students expressed interest to actualize their proposals and came together with their graduate student peers to mobilize around the creation of this installation.

This hands-on experience provided both the graduate and undergraduate students with a variety of skills – to mobilize and collaborate, to design interesting urban spaces, to participate in local placemaking, and to engage in advocating for public space interventions in their city.

Project leads: Kelly Gregg, PhD candidate and sessional instructor, Department of Geography and Planning and Sneha Mandhan, PhD student and teaching assistant, Department of Geography and Planning

PARKing Day September 20, 2019:  

Kelly Gregg at Parking Day

U of T geography and planning’s Kelly Gregg and Sneha Mandhan standing next to the team’s PARKing day installation on Bloor Street West (photo by Gabriella Shiyuan Zhao)

U of T students

PARKing Day was a collaboratiave effort led by second-year University College undergraudate Willow Cabral; geography and planning's Kelly Gregg (course instructor and PhD candidate) and Sneha Mandhan, PhD student in planning (photo by Savannah Bein).

U of T students and faculty

Cabral, Gregg and Mandhan with St. Michael's College undergraduate and School of Cities Fellow Savannah Bein (far left) and Stefan Soldovieri (far right), chair of the department of Germanic languages and literatures, who were also instrumental in supporting PARKing Day through the department's futurGenerator sustainability initiative (photo by Benjamin Mumford).