Here’s a list of outdoor activities that will be open this winter in Toronto
Skaters wait as a Zamboni cleans the ice at Nathan Phillips Square Feb. 16, 2020. (Joshua Freeman /CP24)
Published Wednesday, November 25, 2020 4:59PM EST
While much of Toronto has been shut down by a second COVID-19 lockdown, city officials have unveiled a list of activities that will be available for those itching to stretch their legs outdoors this winter.
The list includes skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing and other activities.
While some restrictions will be in place and officials are still urging people only to take part with members of their own households, the activities offer some much-needed options for downtime.
“As much as the pandemic makes things different we're committed to giving people more things to do outside safely,” Mayor John Tory said at a news conference Wednesday.
The city will also be adding more washrooms at many public recreation areas.
Tory said the experience with city swimming pools over the summer was successful, and he is hoping that the success will be replicated with winter activities.
“We did have a successful experience of this kind, over the course of the summer at our city pools and we hope to see the same expertise applied but also the same patience and understanding from the public that we received at the swimming pool so that everybody can stay safe and stay healthy,” he said.
Here’s a breakdown of what will be on offer:
Free leisure skating will be available at 54 city-run outdoor ice rinks, including Nathan Phillips Square. The rinks will start operating on Nov. 28, weather allowing. There will be room for a maximum of 25 participants at a time.
Those who want to skate will have to reserve a spot online and check online to confirm that the rink is open. A small number of spots will be open to those who don’t have reservations. Each time slot will run for 45 minutes.
Participants are strongly encouraged to wear face masks on and off the ice and masks will be mandatory while waiting in line.
Skating will not be allowed at the rinks outside of supervised hours.
While indoors washrooms will be open around rinks, change rooms will be closed, so skaters need to come dressed to skate.
In addition to purpose-built ice rinks, the city will also authorize around 30 natural ice rinks and will be accepting applications until December 31 for community-built and maintained natural ice rinks in city parks.
Kids and brave adults will be able to make use of 23 recognized toboggan hills in neighbourhoods across the city. Eight snow loops will be available for walking and snowshoeing at five city-run golf courses.
City parks will remain open through the winter, including more than 800 playgrounds and 30 parks with outdoor fitness equipment, as well as an archery range in E.T. Seton Park. The city’s 68 off-leash dog areas will remain open.
Winter tennis courts, as well as outdoor table tennis and chess facilities will remain open.
Car-free weekends will be held at High Park and the city says that enhanced winter maintenance will be in effect on many recreational trails and pathways at city parks.
Much like its modified camp programs this past summer, the city will be offering a Holiday Camps TO program at 42 locations. The program will feature activities with smaller group sizes and other modifications in order to comply with health guidelines.
City offering grants for community programs
Tory said the city will also be making funding available for other programs designed to support local businesses. The “ShowLoveTO Winter Activation Grant Program” will cover 50 per cent of project costs such as winter lighting, marketing and supplemental sidewalk snow clearing for events “celebrating art, culture and community to encourage business.” Business Improvement Areas, community groups, not-for-profits and charitable organizations are eligible to apply, with applications opening online on Nov. 30.
The city is also taking applications for the “ShowLoveTO Partner Activation Grant Program,” for online or in-person art activations that comply with public health guidelines. The program will support events that run through 2021.