International Park(ing) Day Installation in Toronto

Park(ing) 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. Park(ing) 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 Park(ing) 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.

A group of undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of departments across the University of Toronto are planning a Park(ing) Day installation on Toronto’s public streets in September 2019. This project has the opportunity to raise 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 Park(ing) 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.

There are currently 28 undergraduate and graduate students involved in this project. This hands-on experience will provide 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