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Park Permits

posted on May 24, 2006


posted May 24 2006, modified July 01, 2007

Over the years, the park staff have worked out some local rules together with park friends that seem to fit the park better than the municipal code’s “thou shalt nots,” above. These rules aren’t ironclad, but they seem to work pretty well for now (for more details call the park staff at 416 392-0913):

  1. Ordinary picnics don’t need permits. Picnic tables can be moved from one picnic spot to another but it’s nice for picnickers to move them back if they’re normally used for a program (e.g. pizza days or Friday Night Suppers). Larger local picnic groups under 25 people: if you’re inviting all your aunts and uncles and cousins too, you still don’t need a permit, but please call the park staff when you’re making plans, at 416 392-0913, so they can help you figure out the best location (one that doesn’t put you on top of another group). The park staff can also lend you a dolly for moving a few more picnic tables and an extra trash can to your picnic spot. Just put them back after.
  2. Permits for groups of over 25 people, centrally booked for $71.22, have their designated base location: the south grove under the big old silver maples, where the permit sign is. Those groups can also borrow the staff dolly to carry over extra picnic tables from elsewhere in the park if they need them. The City charges $50 for each extra trash receptacle. If your group would rather spend that money for the picnic food, the staff can show you where the park’s extra plastic trash bins are kept, which you can borrow for free.

posted May 24 2006, Modified July 01, 2007

Pick-up games don’t need a permit – they’re fine if they don’t get in the way of a central permit (like the Toronto Eagles soccer club). To make sure there’s enough time for pick-up soccer/ frisbee/ cricket/ baseball, Tino DeCastro has booked from Saturday 2 p.m. until Sunday night as a “community permit.” That means there’s no need to book six weeks ahead or to pay for playing a pick-up game at the park.

If a community group wants to have a reliable time, e-mail or call Amy at 416 392-0913. But any such group has to welcome individual drop-ins.


posted May 24, 2006, modified July 1, 2007

People practising music (unamplified), dancing, stilt-walking, fire-twirling, headstands, etc. don’t usually need permits. Groups doing tai chi or yoga don’t need permits. Kids making art in groups don’t need permits. People who stop and watch don’t need a permit either – it’s public!

However, drumming, amplified sound and other more intrusive activities should run by staff first.

Feel free to contact park staff at 416-392-0913 or by email to find out some of the sports and activities currently being practiced at the park.


Campfires need permission, but it’s easy and local. Call the park program staff at 416 392-0913 or There are two campfire locations - centre path and south path – plus one more in winter, by the rink. The south location is only available after 8 p.m.

For more information, see Campfire locations and booking page.


posted May 24 2006

A recent e-mail from the central permit office said that only incorporated groups can do a special event at the park. Since that would wipe out about three-quarters of the events at the park, park friends negotiated with the City to co-sponsor neighbourhood, unincorporated groups for special events. To find out more, contact or call 416-392-0913.


Posted May 16 2006, Modified July 01, 2007

Amplified music is usually only permitted down in the Garrison Creek Hollow, south of the marsh fountain near Dufferin Street. That’s so that the sound is partly muffled by the hillside and doesn’t bother the neighbourhood.

Live music gets a bit of leeway to be elsewhere in the park, if it’s not too loud on the mikes. Tables can be moved down to the hollow as needed, and the rink house has a makeshift stage in storage, available to take down there free of charge.

But all tables, benches, stages etc. should (please) be returned to their original spot afterwards.


posted May 12, 2006, modified July 01, 2007

Some places in the park are never given to a permit group: the cob courtyard (including the outdoor kitchen), the playground rain shelter, the wading pool, the playground (all of it, including the whole adventure playground area), and the wood ovens. People can’t rent them since those spaces always have to be available for park programs, i.e. for everyone’s use.

At the ovens there’s a partial exception for birthday parties, which can book special pizza time before or after Sunday pizza day. And school classes can book class pizza-making time before or after the regular pizza times. But even those groups should welcome any unexpected visitor, who wants to try the ovens for the first time – hospitality is good.

Park Permits: Rule Bound

posted September 12, 2006

At a recent park staff meeting, City recreation supervisor Tino DeCastro said that folks who've been playing informal pick-up soccer at Dufferin Grove, now that spring is here, are doing something illegal. He was kidding, right?

Wrong. A bit of research into the 2001 Toronto Municipal Code turned up this:

§ 608-17. Organized sports or activities. While in a park, no person shall….arrange or engage in an organized sport or activity, unless authorized by permit…” And in case there’s any doubt, the municipal code defines this activity as “a sport, game or activity pre-planned by a group or organization whether or not formally constituted and whether or not the players or members wear uniforms.”

A lot of people call up their friends to come to the park and play a game of some kind, if the weather's nice. Who knew that spontaneous sports activity in parks is actually against the law? (unless players arranged for a permit six weeks in advance, and paid for it).

The municipal code also prohibits weeding the park gardens without a permit, moving a picnic table or a park bench, hanging a birthday pinata from a tree, or being in the park at all after midnight.

Dufferin Grove Park has a lot of outlaws, by those rules. That’s what makes it such a lively place. Time to re-evaluate the rules? But until then, if you get a ticket in the park for playing a game of frisbee or walking your dog after midnight, you can share that news with other park friends by e-mailing

Park friends will pay the ticket.

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