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A City for All Seasons: Winter City Planning for Toronto’s Parks and Public Spaces

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posted on 2022-02-02, 17:04 authored by Nathan Petryshyn
Municipalities which identify as “winter cities”– those who design and plan for their cold climates and embrace the unique opportunities of the winter season, hold numerous social and economic advantages. Promoting and supporting seasonal design, community events, recreational opportunities, and year-round urban activity is shown to result in positive social and economic outcomes for municipalities. As a northern city, Toronto has taken steps through policy development, guidelines, and seasonal activities to encourage better use of public spaces throughout the winter season. Yet implementation of these ideas can go further. How might Toronto holistically embrace its climate and become a true “winter city”?
Case study comparisons to our North American counterparts and site analysis of Toronto’s downtown park spaces highlight that more might be done to improve urban winter living in Toronto, specifically via improved design and functionality of parks and public spaces during the cold season. If accomplished, the positive impacts associated with embracing the winter season and identifying as a winter city may occur in Toronto. In-depth literature review defines the winter city concept and the numerous benefits associated with embracing winter city design and planning principles.
Considering local municipal policy and understanding what is currently being achieved in other North American municipalities, winter city recommendations specific to Toronto’s parks and public spaces are developed. By implementing these recommendations, Toronto may
improve both new and existing parks and public spaces– places essential to the city’s function, full of social and economic opportunity, resulting in positive benefits for citizens, communities, and the city overall.





Master of Planning


Urban Development

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Dr. Zhixi C. Zhuang