Hosting Experiences in parks and recreational areas of Toronto
These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your Experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you're unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experiences, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
Reservations and permits for hosting Experiences at beaches or parks in Toronto
You may need a reservation or a permit for certain types of Experiences and for certain places when you’re hosting Experiences.
Follow these steps to figure out whether you’ll need to get a permit or make a reservation for your experience:
- Step 1: Choose your location. Start by determining which level of government manages the park, beach or facility you have in mind for your Experiences. If your Experiences are at a park outside Toronto, see our note below about Ontario Provincial Parks and National Parks.
- Step 2: Figure out if you’re hosting an event that requires a permit. Once you’ve found your location, ask whether you’re hosting an Experience that requires a permit for that location.
- For example, Experiences involving a fitness activity or instruction (like ice skating or tennis lessons) at a park or beach managed by the City of Toronto, like Trinity Bellwoods Park, would probably be considered an event that requires a commercial permit. Also, hosting a large event, such as a picnic for more than 25 people, will also require a special permit.
- Step 3: If you need a permit, complete the application process. Once you’ve determined you’re hosting an event that requires a permit, you’ll need to complete the permit application process before hosting your Experience.
- Step 4: Determine if you need to reserve your location, and complete the reservation process. If you don’t need a special event permit, you may still need to reserve your park area, beach, or facility. Determine whether your location requires a reservation and, if it does, complete the reservation process.
Step 1: Choose your Location.
I’ve chosen the park, beach, or recreational area where I want to Host my Experiences. Who do I need to talk to in that park, beach, or facility?
Many of Toronto’s most popular parks, like High Park and Centre Island, are managed by the City of Toronto's Department of Parks, Forestry Recreation (the “DPFR”). Applicable permits or reservations should be obtained from the City if you plan to host your Experiences at a Toronto park.
In the Greater Toronto Area, local municipalities manage their parks and facilities. Applicable permits or reservations in those areas can usually be obtained from the local municipality if you plan to host your Experiences at a park in another municipality in the Greater Toronto Area.
In addition, Ontario Parks manages many provincial parks, campgrounds and facilities around the greater Toronto area. Any applicable permits or reservations will need to be made with Ontario Parks if you plan to host your Experiences at a provincial park.
A note about Toronto parks: The City of Toronto is just one of many levels of government that operate parks in the area. The 25 local municipalities in the Greater Toronto Area host a number of their own parks, beaches and recreation facilities. In addition to the many one-of-a-kind parks and beaches in the Toronto area, there are several must-see provincial and national parks in striking distance from Toronto.
If you plan to host Experiences at one of these parks or beaches, we encourage you to visit the website for that particular park or beach to see whether a permit or reservation is necessary. While far from a complete list, below are links to several of these parks:
- Don Valley Brick Works (East Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Scarborough Bluffs/Bluffer’s Park and Beach (Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- High Park (West Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Riverdale Park and Farm (East Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Toronto Music Garden (Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Ashbridges Bay (East Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Cherry Beach Clarke Beach Park (Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Christie Pits Park (Toronto) Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Toronto Botanical Gardens (Toronto) Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Humber Bay Park East (Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Trinity Bellwoods Park (West Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Toronto Island (Toronto): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Sandbanks Provincial Park (East Ontario): Information about day use fees, campsite fees, and reservations
- Presqu’ile Provincial Park (Eastern Ontario): Information about day use fees, campsite fees, and reservations
- Algonquin Provincial Park (Northern Ontario): Information about day use fees, campsite fees, and reservations
- Arrowhead Provincial Park (Northern Ontario): Information about day use fees, campsite fees, and reservations
- Rouge National Urban Park: Information about fees, reservations, and permits, including permits for overnight camping
- Thousand Islands National Park:: Information about fees, reservations, and permits, including permits for guided services and overnight camping
Step 2: How to tell if your Experiences require a permit
Whether your Experiences require a permit depends on where you plan to Host - take a look at the information below to see who manages the park or beach where you’re hosting and what activities require a permit.
A. For parks managed by the City of Toronto's DPFR
The DPFR’s permits and rentals portal contains information about the requirements for different types of events held at City parks. Per that portal, a special event permit is generally not required for Experiences hosted at a park managed by the DPFR, but you should check with the DPFR to confirm.
For certain organized recreation activities (like a fitness boot camp, yoga class, surf lesson, or volleyball lesson); a special permit may be required to host such an Experience in a park managed by the DPFR. The DPFR also provides terms and conditions to consider when holding private recreation activities at City parks. Informal recreational activities do not appear to require a permit.
However, we encourage you to check with the DPFR to confirm park policies and any special requirements before hosting an Experience that includes:
- A fitness activity or fitness instruction;
- A large number of guests who will be joining your Experiences (there is no guidance on what the Department considers to be a “large”);
- Live or recorded music using amplified speakers (excluding battery-powered speakers);
- Consumption of Alcohol; or
- Stages, canopies, tents, bleachers, barricades or other special set-up facilities.
The DPFR’s website also contains a listing of special events and the current permit rates, set according to group and facility classifications.
B. For beaches managed by the DPFR
If you’re hosting your Experiences at a beach managed by the DPFR the permitting process functions the same way as for parks. See above for details.
C. For provincial parks managed by Ontario Parks
A day use fee is required for admission to each provincial park managed by Ontario Parks. Additional fees are required for overnight camping, varying by campsite popularity level. The Day Use Fee is subject to change annually. The fee varies depending on whether you arrive at the park in a vehicle, how many people are in your party, and what activities you intend to partake in while at the park. There are currently no restrictions against commercial guiding services in provincial parks, nor are there insurance requirements when entering onto provincial parkland.
Step 3: Getting a special event permit
A. If you’re hosting in a park managed by the DPFR
You can start the reservation process by going to the DPFR’s park permits website and finding the information for the appropriate permit type you are seeking. For group fitness activities, you will need to obtain a commercial permit to operate in City of Toronto parks. Depending on the type of event, you may also need to view the DPFR`s Outdoor Special Events page to view the application for a special event permit. In order for an event to be deemed a Special event, it must meet one or more criteria listed on this page.
The DPFR may require you to provide proof of general liability insurance coverage, depending on the type of event. In some cases, the City of Toronto offers insurance at an additional charge.
Seasonal permits may be available from the DPFR. You should check the application review and permit issuance timelines posted to the DPFR’s website for further information.
B. If you’re hosting in a park managed by Ontario Parks
If you are organizing group Experiences, Ontario Parks limit the number of people who may occupy a site. As of the date of this help article, no more than six people may occupy a campground campsite, unless these people comprise a single family unit of parents and children. Group camping rules vary by park. More information is available by calling the Ontario Parks Call Centre.
Example 1: Emma and her band want to play a live performance for their guests in a Toronto park. First, she will need a permit under the Arts and Music in Parks category. It's free, except for mandatory insurance. For music events, insurance ranges from $25 to $100, based on number of participants. Emma may choose from a list of pre-selected park locations, or contact the city if she desires a location that is not on the list. She and her band must follow the 85 decibel restriction, measured from the park limit. If she requires greater amplification, she will require a Noise Exemption from Municipal Licensing and Standards.
Example 2: Michael plans to host a spring cardio boot camp in a Toronto Park. Since Michael will be charging a fee to clients, he will need a permit to host a commercial recreation service. The permit rate (which varies by activity type) is applied for groups who have 20 people per class, for a maximum of two sessions per day, for two hours each. Michael should fill out a seasonal permit form and send it to his local permit office.
Step 4: How to reserve your location if required
In general, you don’t need a reservation to host a non-fitness experience at a Toronto park or a park area or beach in a municipality in the Greater Toronto Area. You can use most of these areas on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you want exclusive use of a particular area, certainty that you’ll have the park area when you want it, or use of an indoor facility, you’ll need to reserve your location.
If you need to make a reservation, plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time to complete the reservation process; most reservations must be completed online but may also be completed in person with the appropriate park reservation office.
A. If you’re hosting a private recreation activity at a park managed by the DPFR
To make a reservation, you’ll need to go to the City of Toronto’s permits and rentals portal to follow the process for reserving your park area or recreation facility. You will select the type of facility you desire, and follow the given instructions according to the Permit Allocation Policy.
B. If you’re hosting a guest during an activity at a provincial park managed by Ontario Parks
Access to provincial parks for day use does not require a reservation. To make a reservation for a campground, you’ll need to go to the Ontario Parks reservations portal to follow the process for reserving your campground. You can select which park you will be staying at from within that portal as well as individual campsites.
Other types of licenses or permits to host a fitness activity or provide fitness instruction
While you may need a business license to operate a business for profit in your respective municipality, you don’t need a specific license to host a fitness activity or provide fitness instruction.
That said, you can get a training or guiding certification from a reputable accredited program. In all cases, you should ensure that you have adequate insurance in case a guest is injured or there’s any property damage.
Also consider completing an adult CPR course, like the one offered by the Canadian Red Cross, in case there’s an emergency.
Other things to think about before hosting a fitness activity
First and foremost, your guests' health and safety should always come first. How you handle your Experiences and listing is up to you, but we encourage you to:
- Spell out in your listing the minimum fitness level guests should have to participate in your Experiences.
- Explain what guests should expect from your fitness activity, including the duration and intensity of any cardiovascular activity and types of strength-training.
- Make sure that your guests participate in exercises that are appropriate for their level of fitness.
- Consider starting your fitness activity at a slower pace to evaluate your guest’s fitness level.
- Take appropriate precautions with equipment, facilities and environmental factors.
- If medical attention is needed, direct your guest to a hospital or reputable doctor. Do not attempt to provide physical therapy advice or attempt to make a medical diagnosis yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
- Keep your guests' health information confidential.
Example 1: Michelle is leading a boot camp in High Park. Her listing makes clear that guests should be properly fit and conditioned to handle a 2 hour workout that starts slowly with dynamic flexibility exercises but goes on to running, resistance bands, body weight and partner exercises. Michelle has thoroughly scouted the area for hazards and will bring an emergency first aid kit. After securing a commercial permit, Michelle can consider reserving a space with the City of Toronto’s Department of Parks, Forestry Recreation, or she can decide to show up early to make sure she has the space she needs. In either case, Michelle is taking steps to keep her guests safe.
Example 2: Jon, who has just completed his teacher training course, is leading an Ashtanga yoga class in Trinity Bellwoods Park. His listing makes clear that guests should be properly fit and conditioned to handle a 1 hour workout that picks up quickly with several fast-paced sequences of linked poses. Jon has thoroughly scouted the area for hazards and will bring an emergency first aid kit. Jon is taking great steps to keep his guests safe. Because Jon is hosting a fitness activity or physical lesson for profit, he’ll need a Commercial Activities permit from the DPFR.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).
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