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July 13, 2008
City plans to build a green facility in High Park and launches Adopt-a-Bale program
At today’s Insect Extravaganza Community Festival in High Park, the City of Toronto announced plans to build an environmentally sustainable teaching kitchen at the High Park Children’s Garden. The City, in partnership with the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, kicked off the Adopt-A-Bale fundraising campaign - offering the community a chance to participate in and support this opportunity.

The new green municipal building - the Children’s Teaching Kitchen - will enhance the principles of the Children’s Garden and Exploring Toronto Programs that are operated by the City of Toronto.

The teaching kitchen will be built using plastered straw bale walls and reclaimed, locally sourced materials. The bales are stacked on top of each other, within a post and beam structure to create strong and well insulated walls. A green roof, which is a living roof made of plants, will help manage storm water runoff into Grenadier Pond. The complex will also include solar panels, a solar water heater (a unit on the roof that is heated by the sun and pre-warms the water for the water heater) and a wind turbine to reduce demand for energy from the hydro grid. These approaches adhere to the Toronto Green Development Standard which was adopted in 2007.

“It’s an exciting time for the City of Toronto. This is an innovative and creative initiative that demonstrates our commitment to environmental sustainability,” said Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30 Toronto-Danforth), Chair of the Parks and Environment Committee. “The Children’s Teaching Kitchen will serve as a landmark demonstration site for sustainable building techniques and renewable energy technologies.”

The City is raising funds for this project through the Adopt-A-Bale fundraising campaign. By donating to the Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation, a bale of straw will be “adopted” by the donor and the funds raised will be used to provide informative, timely and fun programs for children and the community.

Although unconventional, straw bales have many advantages in building use. They greatly reduce the environmental impact compared to conventional building techniques, offer a much higher insulation factor than typical insulation materials, promote better air quality indoors by allowing air vapour to pass through, are a low environmental impact material that are easily sourced locally, and have excellent fire ratings and sound insulation qualities.

“The Children’s Teaching Kitchen will provide the public with a source of inspiration for sustainable living practices in the City of Toronto,” said Councillor Bill Saundercook (Ward 13 Parkdale-High Park), “As an organic gardening haven, the new kitchen will allow for expansion of year-round benefits for the whole community.”

“This project is another example of how committed the City of Toronto is to being conscious about the environment in which we live, work and play,” says Brenda Librecz, General Manager of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation. “In 2007 a number of our Parks Forestry and Recreation facilities underwent energy retrofits to ensure they are environmentally responsible and cost effective operations. The Children’s Teaching Kitchen builds on this by incorporating environmentally sustainable construction and operation.”

For more information about the Children’s Teaching Kitchen or the Adopt-a-Bale program, visit

Toronto is Canada’s largest city and sixth largest government, and home to a diverse population of about 2.6 million people. It is the economic engine of Canada and one of the greenest and most creative cities in North America. In the past three years, Toronto has won more than 70 awards for quality, innovation and efficiency in delivering public services. Toronto’s government is dedicated to prosperity, opportunity and liveability for all its residents.

Media contact:
Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation Media Hotline, 416-560-8726,



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