Here's a map of places to have fun outdoors in Toronto this winter
A Toronto man has created a useful map of outdoor activities, washrooms and community resources as we head into a winter of lockdown.
The COVID-19 Toronto Resource Map shows the locations of outdoor rinks, outdoor fitness facilities, tobogganing hills, disc golf, skiing trails, and public toilets. It also lists food banks, drop-in spaces and public libraries with free Wi-Fi.
Derek Pokora, a planning and design consultant in Toronto, said he wanted to simplify access to community resources with a single map. Anyone in Toronto can use the map to see what resources are available to them, all in one place.
To help Torontonians during the pandemic, I created a map of resources that includes washroom & water sources. Please note that the City of Toronto only has limited park washrooms open during winter, shown here as dark teal icons. https://t.co/e6fMcnoj8I pic.twitter.com/mC56MevVxM— Derek Pokora (@derekpokora) November 9, 2020
He collected resources that affect all residents of Toronto but wanted to help vulnerable people the most.
"I was collecting because I specifically wanted to help provide information to low-income and housing insecure Torontonians," Pokora told blogTO. "So many front-line service agencies were drastically impacted in terms of service delivery at the onset of the pandemic."
"Locating information and community resources can often be onerous and overwhelming for people during 'normal' times, let alone during a pandemic."
Pokora said he started making the map in April and spent about 20 hours each month scraping data from various sources, compiling and updating spreadsheets, geo-tagging, and uploading the map layers. Pokora tweeted with Brad Ross, Chief Communications Officer for the City of Toronto, several times to clarify the availability of resources.
Response to the map has been good.
Wow, thanks for doing this... it's not good. Our cities really need to beef up the public infrastructure in our cities.— 🐝win (@hmmbee) November 9, 2020
"The winter from COVID Hell is moving towards Canada!" one person Tweeted. "This is very important and shows a broader more responsive and open minded social evolution!"
This is great. Knowing where available bathroom facilities are is important for so many people. Thank you!— Hiking Boot Eleganza (@bigfishstone) November 9, 2020
"I have had many people thank me for the time invested to create such a resource," Pokora said.
He was told Toronto Public Health shared the map with a variety of community partners and front-line agencies.
Pokora said he plans to keep the existing map current and accurate particularly when conditions and regulations change over time.
"As they have evolved, so has this map. Resources have been both added and removed to address changes in local infrastructure and service availability, and when updates are made available to me," he said.
Splash pads were on the map in the summer but he removed them for the winter.
He would like to see the map evolve.
"In the future, I wish to create additional map layers that include more mental health and medical resources," he said. "I would also like to use the various layers of the map to conduct further analysis using a lens of equity."
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