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Civic Impact

ELN Pitch Contest winners want Torontonians to Get Outside!

On May 5, five promising new start-ups had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges and a crowd of supporters. From two park-related apps, to an online platform aimed at educating newcomers to Canada about sexual health, to a pilot program trying to integrate flexible childcare with emerging career needs, to a program looking at indigenous history, The Emerging Leaders Network ELNshowcase showcased a variety of ideas that will help shape the future of Toronto.

The showcase winners were the Get Outside! Toronto Parks+Trails App. “We’re calling the all-access experience guide to finding anything and everything to do with Toronto parks and trails,” says Neluka Leanage, the project’s overseer. “A lot of people think they have to go out of the city for nature experience, so we’re trying to showcase what’s here on offer and what won’t cost you a car trip out of the city.”

Get Outside! combines user-input information with open-source like Google Maps to allow a fuller and more developed parks and trails experience than the City of Toronto currently offers. “The city is missing a bunch of data around parks: they don’t have all the locations of water fountains, or whatever the latest maintenance issues are,” explains Leanage. “What we’re trying to do is engage people who regularly snap photos anyway. We want people to be able to tell the city something about their park in a different way.”

The team behind the app hopes to partner with city staff in order to roll out the app. Leanage says that the app may eventually  help supplement or replace public consultations about parks. Until then, the app will supplement users experiences by giving them a chance to upload their own tips and photos, and see what others have input as well.

Leanage says participating in the showcase was “little intense,” but the judging sessions and networking opportunities gave the Get Outside! team the boost they needed to win. Over the next year, they will use their winnings, which include a hot desk at the Centre for Social Innovation and start-up funding, to help flesh out their app. They anticipate that, by next spring, Get Outside! will be encouraging Torontonians to do just that.
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