trinity bellwoods park

Trinity Bellwoods park is getting way too crowded

There are three things in Toronto that are guaranteed in the summer: the Pride Parade, Caribana, and the throngs of hot, sweaty humans at Trinity Bellwoods Park. 

Iconic summer hangout or overrated Toronto cliche: however you want to look at this overwhelming hotspot between Dundas and Queen, it's no secret that Trinity Bellwoods has become a certified meat market, specifically when the sun comes out. 

Given the few days of sunshine we've gotten so far, you can't blame the masses—it is a public space after all. 

But with new construction happening on Trinity Bellwoods Circle and surrounding pathways, and with fencing cutting off a sizeable chunk of the 36-acre park until later this summer, the crowdedness has reached unprecedented levels. 

While it's hard to track exactly how many people frequent the park on a daily basis, Toronto Parks Manager Peter White says there's no doubt that Trinity Bellwoods visitors number in the thousands, and that the park is getting busier year after year.

"We have lots of new condo buildings around and people looking for open space," says White.

Christie Pits, the next most logical park, is located just a few intersections north, and the scenic Dufferin Grove sits more west of that. Even Alexandra Park—just a 20 minute away—can accommodate its fair share of lawn-loungers.

Still, no other park offers the same proximity to tourist-friendly West Queen West, or for that matter, sense of cultural identity, as Trinity Bellwoods does (where else does a Torontonian spot a white squirrel?)

But, while sharing a 15-square-foot area with hacky-sack players and clandestine beer drinkers may not irk everybody, there's the health of the physical park to keep in mind. 

It's a public space and we welcome people to use it," says White. "But it’s tougher on the grass. It’s tougher on the trees. We have more litter to collect."

According to a city report, the increased use of public spaces (along with climate change, pests, and invasive plants) is "putting pressure on the city’s ecosystems, leading to degradation and the need for increased maintenance."

Right now, Toronto has around 8,000 hectares of parkland, equal to about 28 square metres of parkland per person. That number is predicted to go down to 21 square metres over the next 15 years thanks to our growing population.

There isn't really a whole lot we can do to limit it," says White. "We have an onsite staff person that can deal with issues, and more litter picking."

Already, the regular function of Trinity Bellwoods has seen some recent changes. 

Last year, adult softball leagues had to be moved from the park's diamonds after home runs became a safety issue for the growing number of people gathering nearby.

Plus, the growing number of permitted events, from the Farmers' Market to movie nights, attract even more visitors to the area.

"I think Trinity has developed its reputation sort of organically...It really has become a popular spot." 

Until the city magically conjures up some more green spaces for us to enjoy over the next few months, we'll have to put up with the Woodstock-level crowds every time we walk through those Bellwoods gates. Just make sure to take your beer cans with you when you leave.

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