Shade the Barns
About Us

Shade the Barns: Who We Are and What We Do

Shade the Barns evolved during the summer of 2010 out of a community’s shared concern: the lack of shade in the park.  During this summer, frustrated parents and caregivers either avoided the park at critical protection times (11 am – 4 pm) or vied for a tiny patch of shade cast by a concrete wall over a concrete pathway. We were concerned primarily for the health of the children using the park, who would be exposed to relentless sun and heat without relief.  No amount of SPF 50 sunscreen could provide the relief that shade can. There was also plenty of medical evidence to support our concern for the children’s health: in Toronto in the summer, sunburn and skin damage can occur in as little as a few minutes during high UVR level days. We wanted to take a proactive, positive approach to this situation and started a brainstorm of ideas. The community contacted the office of St. Paul’s Councilor Joe Mihevc, Ward 21, who recognized our concerns and was immediately on board with his support and commitment.

By September 2010, the first Community Consultation Meeting took place in the Community Gallery at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. At this meeting, the community was able to hear and discuss initial ideas for creating shade spaces in the park. Shade the Barns was then formed, consisting of the following volunteers: Beth Gosnell, Special Assistant to Councilor Joe Mihevc; Alex Shevchuk, OALA, Acting Supervisor, Area Landscape and Planning Initiatives, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, City of TorontoAmanda Gomm, Manager of Volunteers & Community Engagement Local Enhancement & Appreciation of Forests; Rhonda Teitel-Payne, Urban Agriculture Manager, The Stop Community Food Center; Laura Reinsborough, Founder, Not Far From the Tree; and, Jennifer Goldberg, community member.

Subsequently, in October 2010 Shade the Barns met and Planning and Fundraising sub-committees were formed. The Fundraising sub-committee has been meeting weekly since January 2011, and is now fondly referred to as “the shady ladies”: Rachel Kimel, Nadia Sapiro, RonniLyn Pustil, Beth Gosnell and Jennifer Goldberg.

Shade the Barns will:

  • Be accountable to the needs of all the park’s users, and consult and make decisions in conjunction with the community and the City;
  • Be a partner in the design, planning and development of shade structures and shelters;
  • Organize fundraising and public information initiatives;
  • Meet on an ongoing basis to discuss progress and evaluate goals;
  • Refer to and utilize the ‘Shade Guidelines’, Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, July 2010.

Rationale for the Shade the Barns (Or, Why Bother?)

The existence of the Wychwood Artscape Barns completely galvanizes the surrounding communities of Hillcrest, Wychwood and Humewood. People come from near and far to enjoy the weekly Saturday farmer’s market, myriad events, social activities and workshops that are offered, the vibrant arts and artists’ community, theatre, dances, and the list goes on. The park is one of the busiest in the area, full of children playing, families picnicking, folks kicking a ball or simply strolling, reading or enjoying a game of chess outdoors. On a warm Saturday morning, there are hundreds of people in this park. But - there is no shade relief outside!

According to the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, 1986,

“The role of supportive environment becomes increasingly important as a potential trigger of healthy behaviour in everyday life, particularly in children.”

The Coalition’s efforts have been informed by the excellent and thorough The Shade Guidelines, Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, July 2010. On the front page of this manual, The Shade Policy for the City of Toronto, approved by the Board of Health in 2007, states,

“The provision of shade can be an effective means of reducing exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and its associated health risks such as skin cancer. Furthermore, the presence of shade can encourage physical activity, reduce greenhouse gas and air pollutant emissions, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and reduce energy costs.

The provision of shade, either natural or constructed, should be an essential element when planning for and developing new City facilities such as parks or public spaces, and in refurbishing existing City-owned and operated facilities and sites. Increasing shade in Toronto contributes to a healthier and more sustainable city.”

According to Local Enhancement and Appreciation of Forests (LEAF), there are over 170 trees on the property! So why isn’t there shade? Currently the trees provide little to no shade because they are young, and by LEAF’s estimate it will be a good 20 years before they do. According to LEAF, most of the trees are not thriving due to poor soil conditions, and it will take three years to improve the soil to a point where the trees will start to thrive. LEAF has been granted by the City the authority to take over the care of the trees, and will be developing a community stewardship program for their ongoing care. Eventually, these trees will provide shade.

In the meantime, we need shade.

Rationale for Shade Sails (Or, Why Structures?)

Shade sails of various styles and materials are used all over the world, from Australia to Saudi Arabia. They know a thing or two about sun exposure. These structures consist of triangular shaped sails made from specialized material that are affixed to steel posts at different angles and heights. These are strategically placed around the park and create shade. These structures are sturdy, safe and effective. They are also simple to maintain, as the sails must be removed in the fall and stored until they are raised again the following spring.

We are also planning on installing a few shade ‘umbrellas’ in the park. These umbrella-type structures will be functional and aesthetically pleasing.

If you would like more information about these structures and sails, please contact us. We will have more technical information available at the Community Consultation Meeting in March 2011. Join our e-mail list and you won’t miss it!

Creating More Seating Areas In The Shade (Or, What Else Is Up Our Sleeve?)

 Along with creating sun-safe spaces, we plan to create additional seating around the playground and sandpit using reclaimed materials, such as felled City trees. Using these materials, we recycle, reuse and reduce, and create beautiful and functional seating arrangements for all to enjoy. The City of Toronto, Department of Parks, Forestry and Recreation, will provide us with the materials at no cost.

As well, we are planning to add a few picnic tables to the southern perimeter of the park. At this edge, the fencing and shrubs offer some shade. Adding picnic tables will invite the opportunity to use the space, create comfort and take advantage of existing shade.

Once again, if you would like more information please come out to our Community Consultation Meeting in March 2011.  Again, join our e-mail list ( and you won’t miss it!

 Looking Ahead (Or, We’re Not Done Yet!)

LEAF has received approval from the City to take over the care of all the trees on the property! This is great news, because LEAF reports that most of the trees are not thriving. Under their expertise, they plan to nurse these trees back to health with the help of the community through a stewardship program. People will have the opportunity to ‘adopt-a-tree’ and together with LEAF’s expertise allow these trees to fulfill their potential – and eventually provide the best shade there is! Shade the Barns supports LEAF in this important initiative. For more information about this important organization visit their site:

Not Far From the Tree and the Stop Community Food Centre have ideas galore that would green the space at the park and bring more shade in the future. They would like to see fruit trees on the property! For more information on these organizations visit their sites: and

For more info, visit The Shade Guidelines, Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, July 2010