There are more than 2,400 laneways in Toronto. And these alleys are becoming the newest places for communities and families to gather thanks to the not-for-profit organization The Laneway Project.

Over the past two years co-founders and urban planners and designers Michelle Senayah and Ariana Cancelli have turned many of the city’s once abandoned or underused places into greener more livable spaces.

Diving into unchartered territory, the duo learned the ins-and-outs of the regulatory and master planning realms of the city and transportation departments and brought together strangers and neighbours to create site-specific transformations, greening events and family-friendly pop-up festivals, such as this summer’s Laneway Crawl Series. (The next one is this Sunday, August 28th on Danforth East with the final alley party on September 25th near Christie Pits.)

And Torontonians are benefitting from their passion, research and experience. The Laneway Project offers publically available how-to guides on greening and naming laneways, as well as creating murals and events.

For families specifically, narrower and lightly trafficked laneways offer a much more safe place to play. Here are some ideas on how to get started:

  • Organize a laneway clean up day with your neighbours for a couple hours. Get kids to participate in the sweeping and litter clean up.
  • Gather your neighbours for interactive activities like sidewalk chalk drawing, hula hooping or drum circles.
  • Use garages for pick-up sports games like hockey and soccer.