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Picnics And Permits (Main)

Welcome to Picnics and Permits at Dufferin Grove Park

THIS PAGE IS NOW IN HIBERNATION. For information about picnics and permits, call park staff at 416 392-0913

posted April 23, 2008

Various activities in Dufferin Grove Park sometimes need to be booked, either through a central permit or a talk with staff depending on what kind of an event or activity you are thinking about. Staff are happy to answer questions. Call them at 416-392-0913.

Detailed information about pizza days and the bake ovens, campfires, picnics, sports, practicing music, special events, and birthday parties can be found in the Guidelines and Rules section.

Latest Picnic and Permit News

From the September 2010 Newsletter:


Picnics and other gatherings of family and friends make a park lively and pleasant to be in. Recently, CELOS researchers have been visiting many parks in all parts of the city (to find out about the use of the Stimulus funds). On sunny days in the summer, it was often worrying to see how empty of people many of the parks were.

Picnics can bring people back. For that, you need some basics, though – tables and drinking fountains and washrooms. Many Toronto parks have none of those things, and as we’ve found out, there’s no room in a 2010 budget of $370 million (operating and capital) to add them, either.

Dufferin Grove Park has 28 picnic tables, down from 45 in 2007 but still a lot better than the 1 - 4 tables in similar-size neighbourhood parks in Etobicoke or Scarborough. The park also has washrooms and water and an interesting playground, so on weekends it’s a popular birthday party spot. People sometimes borrow the park dolly to move picnic tables closer together, and if they forgot something, they just buy it at the cob cafe. They may bring a little tent for babies to nap in. Often there are clusters of balloons and streamers on the trees, and happy birthday signs. Other park users have the fun of watching the goofy antics in egg-and-spoon or sack-races, or an all-ages soccer game, or blind-folded children banging at piñatas. The smells of frying chicken or hamburgers hang in the air.

Almost all these things are against the city’s park bylaws. What’s not allowed: moving tables; picnics of over 25 without a permit; attaching anything to the trees, including balloons, streamers, and piñatas; barbeques; tents; putting up signs or notices without a permit; and playing sports without a permit. (All these bylaws can be found on the city website or on the

Most of the time those rules don’t make much sense, and they’re ignored by the park’s program staff. But sometimes the point of the prohibitions becomes a little clearer. The problem arises when picnickers get confused about the difference between private and public space. Smoky barbeques beside the wading pool or the playground – no fun for the park users. A birthday party that sets up right by the cob cafe or right at the edge of the public wading pool –confusing for park users who suddenly feel like uninvited guests at the party. Streamers from tree to tree to tree, that seem to suggest staking out part of the park for private use “STAY OUT.” Four or five of the scarce picnic tables taken away from the public wading pool area to serve as the staging area for a single birthday party – not fair.

party right by the playground cafe -- too close to public area

party right at the edge of the wading pool -- too close to public area

marking out the birthday party with streamers -- much too large

So the park’s program staff have resolved to remind park users more firmly – “remember that a park is public. Set up your picnic slightly out of the way, and very far away if you’re going to barbecue. Stow the streamers, and minimize the balloons. Never set up right by much-used space like the wading pool or the playground. Return picnic tables after you’re done. A park has no walls, so everybody can see you. Make sure they’re watching with enjoyment.”

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