You can now borrow an Ontario Parks pass from the Toronto Public Library

Toronto Public Library has signed on to the Ontario Parks vehicle pass lending program, offering card holders free provincial parks passes. Dilshad Burman reports.

By Dilshad Burman

Toronto Public Library (TPL) has teamed up with Ontario Parks to make your next hike, bike ride or trail walk in a provincial park more accessible and affordable.

On Monday, TPL announced that those with a library card can now borrow an Ontario Parks Pass from a local library branch for free.

“We’re really excited to offer the Ontario Parks Program at the Toronto Public Library,” said Aly Velji, Manager for Adult Services at TPL. “We’ve been met with overwhelming demand since we launched the program this Monday, which is really amazing to see.”

The pass is a vehicle permit that includes entry for one vehicle and all its occupants and can be used to enjoy any of Ontario’s more than 100 provincial parks.

“You can do so many amazing things. We have rentals available in many of our parks for boats, canoes, kayaks – all that fun stuff. You can go for picnics, you can go for beach days, really the possibilities are endless,” said Megan Birrell, Assistant Program Coordinator with Ontario Parks.

Ontario Parks began collaborating with select local libraries in the province around five years ago through pilot programs to lend out vehicle day passes.

As the program proved successful, the agency expanded it to every publicly funded library in the province for the 2021 season. The parks pass lending program is available at more than 200 libraries province wide.

TPL has 300 parks passes available at 32 city locations. If one is not available at your local branch, you can place a hold on a pass online via the library’s website and a pass will be delivered to it. Once it arrives, you can pick it up at the front desk. Velji says given the high demand, customers are encouraged to book via this method.

Passes are valid for day use only and do not cover overnight stays or any other incidentals like equipment rental.

The pass can be checked out for one week and must be returned at the end of the borrowing period.

“Passes that are not returned will be subject to a replacement fee of $225 and will affect borrowing privileges,” explained Velji.

Apart from late fees – by taking away the cost of a pass, the collaboration aims to make access to Ontario’s great outdoors as easy as a walk in the park.

“Some customers may find barriers to accessing a lot of these attractions and venues that are out there, so this is one way that we can support – by providing access to public spaces,” said Velji.

Birrell adds that borrowing a pass can help mitigate the costs at a time when prices and cost of living are soaring.

“Gas prices are going up and there’s so many other things to spend money on that we want to make sure that accessing parks isn’t impossible for people who maybe don’t have that in the budget at the moment.”

The Toronto Public Library also offers passes to other local attractions including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario through it’s Museums + Arts Pass.

“I encourage everybody to visit their local library and see all the amazing spaces, programs, services and things that we have to offer,” said Velji. “You’ll never be disappointed by visiting your local public library.”

For more on the offers and services available at TPL, click here.

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