StreetPLAY is a simple idea: open neighbourhood streets to children and youth so they can connect with friends and play right outside their front door. By organizing safe and accessible free play for all kids, neighbourhoods are transformed into vibrant community play spaces.

Outdoor play is a natural part of childhood that has been disappearing for decades, due in part to traffic and safety concerns. StreetPLAY was once common in cities worldwide, and there is a growing trend to bring it back.

The Toronto StreetPLAY Pilot Project (TSPP)

 

In 2016, the City of Toronto lifted a ban on playing hockey on residential streets, creating an opportunity for Earth Day Canada to promote and encourage citywide street play. With a one-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the six-month recurring street closure pilot program was created.

Earth Day Canada looked to Seattle, Bristol and London for inspiration, where a free, easily accessible permit system for street play programs is in place. Combined, hundreds of streets have been closed for play.

The TSPP is testing regularly scheduled partial closures for street play on 7 residential blocks in the Seaton Village neighbourhood between June and November 2017.

Why StreetPLAY?

 

A recent study showed that children have lost the right to roam in their neighbourhood over the last four generations. While our great grandparents were free to explore up to a distance of about 10km, children today don’t often have the opportunity to leave their immediate surroundings without adult supervision.

StreetPLAY provides an outdoor free play opportunity for children without the adult fear of roaming as a barrier. It also has benefits for adults, because it offers a way to connect with neighbours and build a sense of community.

Long-term vision

StreetPLAY is an accessible program to support outdoor play in residential communities. Following the success of a pilot project in Toronto in 2017, Earth Day Canada is working toward replicating the StreetPLAY model in cities across the country, allowing every child the freedom to regularly play actively and independently near their own front door. Here’s what that might look like:

Stage 1

equa-citizensl-hockey-photo

Establishing an easily accessible permit system for regular street closures for play.

Stage 2

Signs

Establishing a program whereby residential streets are closed on a regular schedule for StreetPLAY (i.e. Mon-Fri 4-8pm and a few hours on the weekends), with cities providing infrastructure support in the form of StreetPLAY wardens and barricades.

Stage 3

permanent-storage

Cities in Canada adopt a child-friendly city approach where children’s rights are recognized in city planning. Public space is designated for children’s play, just as public space is designated for parking, etc., including storage containers for play materials.

Get in Touch!

For more information about our StreetPLAY program, please contact Danielle Lobo, EarthPLAY for All Co-ordinator – danielle@earthday.ca