TORONTO, April 15, 2021 – High Park Nature Centre and City of Toronto have just been given $4.3M in grant funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. The new funding adds additional financial support for a new Visitor Centre and the refurbishment of the Nature Centre space.
Over 100 years ago, the historical High Park Forest School was established to connect children to nature during a health crisis due to tuberculosis. A small school was erected in the 1930s to provide nourishment, healthy activities, and education to students who needed fresh air and the benefits of nature. Since 2015, the High Park Nature Centre, a charitable organization offering year-round nature programs within the park has been the sole occupant of the forest school building.
The High Park Nature Centre is thrilled to partner with the City of Toronto to launch the creation of a new Visitor Centre and the refurbishment of the Nature Centre space. Combined, the 9,000-square foot space will serve as a hub for our local communities, as a gateway for the millions of annual visitors to High Park, and as the home-base for our nature-based educational programming, bringing the forest school back to its historical roots as a site for the appreciation and understanding of nature in the heart of Toronto.
“Bringing the High Park Forest School back to its original century-old roots as a nature-based school is an opportunity that aligns perfectly with our mission,” said Kara Lysne-Paris, President and Board Chair, High Park Nature Centre. “We’re incredibly grateful for the support we have received to date. With this building improvement, we will increase our relevance to our community and provide the profound benefits brought by engagement with nature to Torontonians of all ages,” said Lyse-Paris.
The revitalization of the building is a community-driven initiative to carry High Park’s heritage forward by:
- increasing public knowledge and awareness of High Park’s unique ecology and rare species, contributing to larger conservation efforts and ensuring the Park is conserved for the future;
- improving understanding of High Park’s Indigenous human history through reconciliation programming and interpretive exhibits; and
- better connecting High Park’s community partners with increased space to collaborate and guide visitors to enjoy a low impact journey through the park.
“The High Park recreational trail and High Park Nature Centre are critical parts of our amazing park. I have no doubt that these infrastructure improvements will benefit my constituents in Parkdale-High Park and all Torontonians for years to come. These updates are greener, more accessible and will make facilities in the park available to families and outdoor enthusiasts year round.”
Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park
To date, the shovel-ready project has received $6M in support, starting with a lead donation from TD Bank Group through The Ready Commitment program. With new contributions from all government partners, the Government of Canada ($2.3M), the Province of Ontario ($2M), the City of Toronto ($820,000), we are truly in the ‘home stretch’ of the ‘Home in High Park’ campaign and will actively seek support to open this new gathering space for park visitors that will be inclusive, accessible and evergreen.