A Toronto dad frustrated with the cumbersome process of registering his kids for Toronto Parks and Recreation programs has developed a mobile app to un-complicate the complicated.
It’s called “The Toronto Fun Guide.”
Phil Vlach poured over hundreds of pages from the official City Parks and Recreation website and PDF guide to manually harvest information. He then wrote thousands of lines of code so parents would have an easy to use resource.
“It’s designed around searchability and making search really easy, grouping stuff together, saving it to a favourites program and then being able to actually hit the ‘register button’ from the app,” said Vlach.
The app allows you to filter programs by districts like Etobicoke-York, North York, Scarborough and Toronto-East York, and by age group.
You can search specific activities, even free ones or select categories.
You can then add the activity to your favourites or your device calendar. The app even allows you to share your activity in case you’re trying to coordinate recreation programs with friends or neighbours.
The City of Toronto has 80,000 recreation programs and processes more than 600,000 registrations each year. Back in April, Mayor John Tory announced plans to improve the official registration process.
“Our recreational programs are vital to our city’s health, but the technology used to register for these programs has not kept up with the times,” said Mayor Tory.
“I know how frustrating this can be and our goal is to modernize this process so that this important programming can be offered smoothly and efficiently, and our staff resources and time are used effectively.”
Toronto Parks and Recreation tells CityNews that City staff continue to get feedback from users and are improving the experience to make registration better.
“We have improved the language, layout and design of web pages to make information simpler and easier to find, and our planning tools like program search and mapping tools have been placed front-and-centre and made easier to use,” says Matthew Cutler, public relations and issues management for Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
The City says after this registration period is complete they will replace the current system.
For the Fall 2016, Vlach’s app is filling the gap. It’s available at no cost at the Apple iTunes store.
“There aren’t even any ads.” Vlach says “It started as a personal service to my family and our circle of friends and now it’s available to everybody. I hope people will go and use it. I don’t get anything out of it.”
Fall/Winter 2016/17 registration starts at 7:00 a.m. on the following dates:
• Etobicoke York District – Sat. September 10, 2016
• Scarborough District – Sun. September 11, 2016
• North York District – Tue. September 13, 2016
• Toronto & East York District – Wed. September 14, 2016