City Permits (Toronto)

When do you need one?

In the City of Toronto, you need a park permit when planning a public performance in a public space. This permit needs to be on site in hard copy form with someone from your organization every night during your run.

In order to get a park permit, your organization has to be an incorporated non-profit organization. For a run of more than three nights, you will need a Special Events Permit from the City of Toronto. For smaller events, you can also look into Arts and Music in the Parks.

All performances in a public space must be free/or by donation. Remember, getting a permit doesn’t mean the park belongs to you. For example, there may be a fire permit also given out for a kid’s birthday parties near your event. Public spaces are highly unpredictable and often require negotiation with other people using their space. It will be stressful, and it is important to be open and stay generous with the community you are working within.

Applying for a Park Permit

If you are planning a performance in a public space, start the conversation as soon as possible a Permitting Officer from the city. Your permit officer depend on which ward the park is located in.

The permitting officer will send you an application to fill out. This application includes:

  • your security plan
  • your waste plan
  • a site map
  • dates and times of performances
  • number of estimated audience
  • proof of your insurance

Parkland - Parkland means park area that is regulated by local government. Most all public parks are considered “parkland,” whereas someone’s backyard would be considered private. This means that you will be required to get both a permit, and insurance for use of this land. Luckily, these permits are often very inexpensive.

If your event is longer than one day, you will be required to go through a bit more nuanced permit process, and included the following information:

  • Waste management plan
  • Noise exemption permit (if there will be amplified sound)
  • Public health permit (if serving food)
  • Alcohol & gaming permit (if serving alcohol)
  • Building permit (if constructing or installing a tent stage, platform or other infrastructure, this also includes staking any part of the ground)
  • Emergency action plan (if large audiences are expected)
  • See Additional Permits for more considerations for your event

It is important to work on permitting as early as possible. Often as early as 6-7 months before your event to try and ensure you get the dates you require. Often there is a site-visit associated with the approval of the permit. Get to know the city staff that is helping you with the permit, and develop a relationship with them because they will be instrumental in the process.

After Submitting your Application

You will need to have an onsite meeting with the Park Supervisor to go over access to electricity. You have to complete a visit with the park supervisor in order to get the permit. Your Permitting Officer will be in touch with you if there is anything else to complete before receiving your final permit.

After receiving your permit, be kind, generous and persistent with your Park Supervisors. They know a lot and have many parks to deal with. They can be great allies.

Washrooms in Public Parks

Don’t forget to negotiate the bathrooms staying open for your event. Talk to your Park Supervisor - Do not assume this is a given! You may need to rent your own portable toilets.

How much does it cost?

The cost of a permit is dependent on estimated audience.

Additional Permits

If you are selling any food or beverages you need an additional permit. You can’t sell alcohol in a public space without fencing off an area that is licensed with a Special Occasions Permit for alcohol sale and consumption.
Depending on your site plan, you may need to speak to the municipal Right-of-Way Management office about the encroachment of Public Right of Way.
If you are planning to temporarily close the street fully or partially to occupy a curblane, sidewalk or boulevard for a race, run, walk or festival, you must apply for a Street Closure Permit.

Arts in the Parks / Animating Toronto Parks

Arts in the Parks is run through The Toronto Arts Foundation and promotes activities in city parks throughout the summer. On some occasions, they may reimburse your park permit. They will also provide volunteers. Learn more about Arts in the Parks by accessing their Arts in the Parks Toolkit here.

The Toronto Arts Council runs the Animating Toronto Parks program, a grant that subsidizes programming in underserved parks.


City of Toronto Permits & Licenses Page

Created by kpalm. Last Modification: Thursday October 19, 2023 16:51:49 EDT by pallison.