In the two weeks, the Pan Am Path has been the backdrop of two separate community events geared at bringing Torontonians back to nature, encouraging active living and celebrating neighbourhood connectivity.
This past weekend, the main proponents of the path, aptly named the Friends of the Pan Am Path, along with East Scarborough Storefront and Jane's Walk, held a series of walks near Scarborough's Highland Creek that focused on understanding the local waterways.
A week earlier, the organization teamed up with Evergreen Brick Works and Cycle Toronto for a mobile concert along the path. Singers and musicians performed on trailers hinged to bicycles while the sound was powered by the bikes as they rode along the trail. The event culminated in the annual Toronto Bicycle Music Festival in Prairie Drive Park.
Both events brought Torontonians outdoors, either cycling or walking and celebrating their city. The Friends of the Pan Am Path couldn't be happier.
"Our trails system is an incredible city-building asset. Bringing local organizations together through the power of art, culture and recreation has been such an incredible formula to bring the Path to life," says James Meers, Executive Director of Friends of the Pan Am Path.
"Our new P4K Pathfinding program builds on the strength of our partnerships with local communities across the trail network. The program supports locally-led programming on the Pan Am Path to ensure it continues to serve residents as a recreational corridor connecting communities with nature and each other," he adds.
In May 2015, the organization, in partnership with the City of Toronto, unveiled the Pan Am Path, an 80 km art and recreational trail spanning from Etobicoke to Scarborough.
Over the next 4 months, the organization brought the path to life with the Pan Am Path Art Relay; 14 community-led festivals, including over 57 thought-provoking art pieces, 97 live performances, and a total of 244 installations. Mayor John Tory called the project "a cornerstone of the Pan Am Games Legacy."
A year later, the pace of events along the path may have slowed down, but the vision of the Friends of the Pan Am Path is as clear as ever.
This past summer, the organization introduced the P4K Pathfinding initiative. The program has included a series of seven walks, talks and rides on the Pan Am Path Path with the goal of encouraging active living, building social capital and connecting neighbourhoods.
While P4K Pathfinding has mainly been a collaboration of Playing for Keeps, Cycle Toronto and Jane's Walk, there have been 24 local community organizations involved.
The organization's main sponsor has been the Toronto Foundation. "The Path presents a powerful opportunity to tackle some of the issues we've been following through our Toronto's Vital Signs Report: a city divided between rich and poor; a declining sense of belonging among some population groups; and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle leading to rising rates of obesity," says Rosalyn Morrison, VP, Community Initiatives, Toronto Foundation. "This new series allows residents to get to know their city and each other with fun forms of physical activity as the catalyst," she adds.
The final event of the 2016 season will take place on the path on October 14. The Friends of the Pan Am Path, in conjunction with VIBE Arts, the Rexdale Community Health Centre and Jane's Walk will host a series of African and Aboriginal drumming workshops and walks on the Humber Trail portion of the Pan Am Path.
The event encapsulates the organizers' goals. "Toronto's greatest assets are diversity, nature and arts. Each of our events celebrate these assets and bring together citizens from all parts of the city to share in our celebrations," says Meers.
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