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High Park Zoo Conservancy: A Partnership Reconnecting the City to the Residents of Toronto

High Park Zoo Conservancy: A Partnership Reconnecting the City to the Residents of Toronto

  • Friends of High Park Zoo Proposes a Public-Private Partnership For High Park Zoo
  • Successfully Executed Our Operating Business Plan, But Capital Investment Remains Challenging
  • No Corporate Partner Is Willing To Risk Their Capital Without Sustainability – the City Has A Role
  • Proposing the City Provides 2014 Zoo Funding While High Park Zoo Conservancy is Consummated

TORONTO, December 1, 2013
Friends of High Park Zoo is today proposing a public-private partnership model – High Park Zoo Conservancy – where the City of Toronto and Friends of High Park Zoo partner to deliver a community Zoo that is both enduring and exceeds residents expectations.

While most Toronto residents saw the budget cuts to High Park Zoo in 2012 as a crisis, Friends of High Park Zoo saw an opportunity. Not only did we see a business opportunity to raise the funding necessary ($228,000 per year) to keep High Park Zoo operating, but the possibility to reconnect the City of Toronto to its residents through the Zoo. We were surprised to find out that at 500,000 visitors per year, High Park Zoo generates 40 times the visitors per hectare per year versus the admission-supported Toronto Zoo.

While Friends of High Park Zoo has been successful in executing on the operating portion of its business plan in the past two years, we have found it challenging to raise impactful capital funding from corporations. No corporation is willing to risk their capital without the City playing an active role to ensure the sustainability of the Zoo. Residents also find it hard to fathom that the Budget Committee and City Council will, if approved for 2014, have raised residential property taxes by 2% or more each year since cutting the funding for High Park Zoo while not restoring $1 of funding for the Zoo.

The status quo is no longer an option. One million residents and visitors have spoken, they expect the City to step up in the 2014 Budget and partner in funding the operating costs of High Park Zoo. Such a partnership would allow Friends of High Park Zoo to focus more on raising capital and other funding with corporations, businesses, foundations and grants for the enhancement (and ultimately the possible self-sustainability) of the Zoo. Our role is to inform the Budget Committee and City Council that the residents of Toronto not only expect their property taxes and the parkland levies from new development to be directed to supporting High Park Zoo but for the City to be part of collaborative business models with private organizations to deliver the services that its residents expect.

In order to achieve this vision, Friends of High Park Zoo is proposing that: (a) the City of Toronto provides the $228,000 of operating costs of High Park Zoo for 2014; and during that period, (b) both partners work toward consummating an agreement to implement a plan that creates the High Park Zoo Conservancy.

For more details of Friends of High Park Zoobs proposal submitted to the Budget Committee, visit

http://www.deondesigns.com/highparkzoo2/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/FoHPZ-Budget-Committee-Submission-High-Park-Zoo-Conservancy-December-1-2013-FINAL-CD.pdf