The Humber Arboretum exists as a partnership between three public agencies – Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA) owns most of the land and provides environmental expertise and leadership; the City of Toronto’s Parks, Forestry, and Recreation division provides operational funding and in-kind services in forestry and horticulture; Humber College owns and operates the venues and structures, offers administrative and operational oversight, and provides day to day staff and management.
This unique partnership has created an equally unique organization with the strength of diverse skills, talents, and knowledge.
The Humber Arboretum has an especially strong day-to-day relationship with Humber College. Students and staff at the North Campus – which also includes the University of Guelph-Humber - make use of the gardens and trails for recreation, mental health breaks, and natural connection, creating a memorable student life experience. Work-study positions provide students with interesting on-campus jobs. The Arb works closely with the college’s Office of Sustainability and Aboriginal Resource Centre on many projects with shared aims.
Of course the most significant connection is the one that started the Humber Arboretum in the first place – its role as learning space for Humber College’s academic programs. Students in landscaping, horticulture, Early Childhood Education, media studies, and culinary programs all benefit from direct, hands-on experiences that support their learning and engagement.
The Humber Arboretum serves the North Etobicoke community as both a public park and a supporter of local organizations and initiatives. In the past, environmental education and leadership opportunities have been provided for youth and families from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter and Youth Without Shelter. The Humber Arboretum also enjoys an ongoing relationship with the Toronto Public Library branch and schools (Humber Downs Jr Middle School and Holy Child Catholic School) inside the Humberwood Community Centre, which sits beside Arboretum land. Public events for families offer a special opportunity for local residents to enjoy the Arboretum grounds.
In 2012, the Humber Arboretum received financial support from Citizens Concerned About the Future of the Etobicoke Waterfront (CCFEW) to extend their outdoor education programs for schools to the Humber College Lakeshore Campus during the months of May and June. While the Arboretum made the decision to suspend Lakeshore school programs in 2020, the Arboretum’s connection with the South Etobicoke community continues through participation in events in Colonel Samuel Smith Park such as Jane’s Walk, Culture Days, and the annual Spring Bird Festival.
Project-specific partnerships with other organizations allow the Humber Arboretum to enhance our programming and draw on the knowledge of a variety of experts. This includes offering gardening workshops facilitated by the Etobicoke Master Gardeners, serving as a display garden for All-America Selections award winning cultivars, and building a bird-friendly demonstration garden with Birds Canada with feeders and seed donated by Wild Birds Unlimited Toronto.