Toronto: The City has launched the start of the public engagement process that will inform the Master Plan and shape the future of this significant waterfront destination.
The details were announced at a virtual ceremony attended by Councillor Joe Cressy (SpadinaFort York), Councillor Mike Layton (University-Rosedale), Councillor Cathie Jamieson of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Janie Romoff, General Manager of Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
The virtual launch event included an invocation and blessing by a Mississauga Elder, remarks from Indigenous leaders and the City of Toronto, an overview of the Toronto Island Park Master Plan, and a celebration of the Island Stories campaign.
Information was shared about the project and how to get involved in the three-phase public engagement process that will run until 2022.
The group of islands sheltering the Toronto harbour has been known by several names. For the Michi Saagiig (Mississaugas), it was known as Mnisiing, meaning ”on the islands”.
Later they were known as Aiionwatha or Hiawatha’s Island. Today, they are known as Toronto Island Park.
The Toronto Island Park Master Plan will be a long-term planning framework that will guide decision-making and future investment in the park. Over the next year and a half, the City will work closely with Indigenous rights holders, urban Indigenous communities, Island residents, waterfront communities and businesses and park visitors to develop a plan that will secure Toronto Island Park as a cherished gathering place for generations to come.
In addition to future physical improvements, the Master Plan will help to ensure that Toronto Island Park better serves the public. This includes improvements to the visitor experience, promoting equitable access, prioritizing placekeeping and celebrating and protecting the Island’s natural and cultural heritage.
Three phases of public engagement are planned. The first phase, called “Towards a Vision“, begins now and extends through to the end of April 2021. This phase explores a vision for the future of Toronto Island Park.
In consideration of COVID-19 guidelines, no in-person activities will be offered, however, the public is invited to share their thoughts, ideas and feedback online at the City of Toronto planning and development website.
Two additional phases of public engagement will follow, with the Master Plan anticipated to be complete in summer 2022.
Mayor John Tory said: “The Island has long held importance in the history of Toronto, first to the Mississaugas of the Credit as a place for ceremonial gathering and healing. The Toronto Island has become a must-see destination in Toronto where people are able to enjoy a variety of activities including: the beaches, amusement park, marinas, clubs, nature trails and events.
“Like many of you, I have fond memories of summer days spent on the Island and know how important it is to our city’s history and landscape. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Toronto Island Park’s unique history and share your feedback on what the future of the park could look like.”
Chief R. Stacey Laforme, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. said: “For many generations the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have held the lands of Toronto Island in high regard as a sacred place. Our ancestors named this place “Mnisiing” which means “on the Island”.
It is here we have buried our dead and have welcomed our children into the world. The island was a place of rejuvenation for our people as we brought our sick to be healed and we participated in many ceremonies…
“As the City seeks a renewed vision for the Island, I hope citizens will join with my people in revering this sacred place in our treaty lands and territory for the next seven generations.”