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YMCA's Green Oasis in the City

  • Dec, 15 2014
  • Industry Sector:Education


How do you enhance a 163-year-old charitable reputation that is already widely recognized as bettering the communities it supports?

You build on its commitment to sustainable practices.

The YMCA of Greater Toronto, one of Canada’s largest and most active charitable organizations that serves more than half a million residents, recognized Toronto needed more green space. Finding a creative answer to incorporating greenery into an urban, concrete landscape became the focus of the challenge.

YMCA's Green Oasis in the City</h3>


Green roofs are engineered roofing systems that incorporate the use of vegetation to make environmental, economic and social contributions to urban areas. When green spaces are built with native species, it allows local birds and insects to thrive.

Sponsored by TD Bank Group, the Central Toronto YMCA replaced their old and leaky concrete terrace with the largest publically accessible green roof in the City of Toronto. Designed and built by more than 150 volunteers who collectively worked more than 1,200 hours, the space is used to encourage educational experiences, ensure accessibility for all persons with disabilities, and uses more than1,800 locally grown plants and shrubs.

The roof is described as a sprawling “oasis” – and covers the size of four full gymnasiums. It features a running track, walkway, and space for outdoor yoga and exercise – a bit of nature in the middle of the city. 

YMCA's Green Oasis in the City</h3>


Besides providing Toronto citizens with an extension of space to exercise and gather, the green roof provides a reduction in storm water runoff, heating and cooling of the gymnasium below and overall management costs. Further, green roofs are known to be longer lasting than conventional ones.

In addition, the roof provides the community with improved air quality, increased natural habitat space for local wildlife, and volunteer and educational opportunities for members and community.

YMCA's Green Oasis in the City</h3>

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