Canadian City Parks Report Released Today
June 13, 2019
The Canadian City Parks Report, released today, finds tight parks budgets, increasingly extreme weather events, and changing use of parks by residents are challenging cities across the country. But it also finds many cities are leading the way on solutions through an increasing focus on collaborative partnerships, proactive parks planning, and inclusive engagement practices.
Launched as an interactive website, the Canadian City Parks Report 2019 was developed by surveying 23 cities across the country in five thematic areas: nature, growth, collaboration, activation, and inclusion.
The report is the first of its kind and fills a gap in information sharing about Canadian city parks. It is a new resource to inform and inspire city staff, community members, professionals, politicians, and non-profits by highlighting leading-edge Canadian practices and tracking the pulse of city parks.
The report includes:
- A new collection of valuable city park data.
- Key indicators and stories that bring context to the data.
- Actionable ideas and park practices from across the country that support learning, inspire action, and foster a culture of information sharing.
Key Findings in Cities We Surveyed
- Budgets tight while populations grow. Cities across Canada are experiencing budget constraints at the same time as growing populations and changing demographics create demand for more parks, amenities, and programming. This has led some cities to reduce design standards in parks so they are more easily maintained, while others indicated making tough choices about which parks receive more maintenance funding.
- Resilience must be scaled up. As instances of extreme weather increase, additional pressure is placed on park systems to absorb effects, like flooding. While cities are piloting green infrastructure in parks, there is a need to scale up and standardize these efforts. We found only 48% of cities have citywide green infrastructure strategies that include parks. Vancouver’s Rain City Strategy leads the way with projects like a new green infrastructure plaza built to soak up rainwater from surrounding streets while providing additional community green space.
- The future is connected. Population growth and urban development is necessitating a focus on proactive parks planning and creative methods to expand and connect parks. Currently 70% of cities have updated park system master plans. This includes Halifax, whose new Green Network Plan, ensures the city develops responsibly around a park system that is planned around green connections for both wildlife and people.
- Partnerships are powerful. Cities are developing non-profit partnerships and collaborations with resident groups to bring creative programming, alternative funding, and specialized knowledge to help meet new demands on city parks. We found 74% of cities currently have at least one non-profit park partnership, including Montreal where key partners work collaboratively with the city to manage large nature parks, such as Mont Royal in Montreal.
- Inclusion means going deeper. Cities are beginning the work of ensuring parks foster inclusion by exploring their own policies and practices, increasing accessibility, and developing programs for newcomers. For example, the multi-city Welcome to this Place initiative that integrates parks and art within the settlement process for newcomers and refugees.
In its first year, Canadian City Parks Report 2019 establishes baselines to track trends in future years. Indicators include park budget dollars spent per resident, number of volunteers, hectares of parkland per 1,000 people, and more. Our goal is to include more cities in the report each year.
Tracking these metrics annually will help monitor the shared challenges uncovered in this first report and illuminate how cities across the country are tackling them with new practices that impact nature, growth, collaboration, activation, and inclusion in our city parks.
“With the support of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Park People is excited to release the first edition of our Canadian City Parks Report, which we know will become a valuable resource for tracking progress and sharing best practices amongst city staff and community leaders. This first year shows that Canadian cities are facing many of the same challenges in city parks, highlighting how important it is to create a culture of shared learning so that we can continue to create the best park systems we can to benefit our communities.” – Dave Harvey, Executive Director, Park People
“With more than 80% of Canadians living in urban areas, city parks play an increasingly important role in the lives of so many of us. We hope the Canadian City Parks Report will help to monitor and guide the future planning of these valuable community green spaces for the well-being of all Canadians.” – Tamara Rebanks, Chair, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
Contact: Jake Tobin Garrett, Policy and Planning Manager, email@example.com