COVID-19 and Parks: Highlights from our national surveys

July 16, 2020

Park People

In June 2020, Park People conducted bilingual surveys to learn about the experiences of Canadians and municipalities during COVID-19. The findings from this unique Canadian dataset offer valuable insights into the role of parks during the pandemic, and their role in recovery. 

In the public survey, we heard from over 1600 residents of Canadian cities about how their use and perspectives on parks have been impacted by COVID-19.

In the survey of municipalities, parks department representatives in 51 Canadian cities shared their experiences responding to COVID-19 and the challenges they see looking ahead. 

Here are key highlights from our early analysis of the surveys. We look forward to diving deeper into the results and sharing more insights in the coming months.

Both municipal leaders and the public have developed a greater appreciation for parks during the pandemic.

Parks have become even more critical to Canadians’ health and wellbeing during COVID-19

“Living alone has meant that walks and outside visits are the only social contact I have had for 4 months. I would have been a mess without access to parks, ravines, trails, the waterfront, etc.”

Most Canadian cities have experienced increased park use during COVID-19

While 87% of Canadians support increased spending on parks, park budgets are facing insecurity

“It is interesting that park use has been so well received by the public, yet to manage our economic realities, parks operations have been the first and largest target areas.”


In response to COVID-19, all cities surveyed closed parks either partially or completely

Canadians are using green spaces closer to home during COVID-19

During COVID-19, Canadians said they are more likely to…  

Canadians’ top concerns about using parks are health-related. But, concerns around experiencing judgment, ticketing and policing are also top of mind

Canadians would like more access to public space, nature, and outdoor programming as part of COVID-19 recovery

The top-ranked changes Canadians would like to see as we move forward with COVID-19 recovery are:

Generously supported by TD


COVID-19 & The Canadian City Parks Report 


Today we’ve also launched the 2020 edition of the Canadian City Parks Report, which includes deep-dive research into biodiversity, creative park development, community engagement, and inclusive responses to homelessness in parks

Here’s what our COVID-19 survey told us about these key topics.


Canadians are using parks to connect with nature during COVID-19

To learn more about how cities and communities across Canada are working to enhance biodiversity in parks, check out the Nature section of the Canadian City Parks Report.


Canadians would like more access to parks and public spaces, but we need to have conversations about how to address park needs equitably

To learn more about practices for centring equity in conversations about park development during COVID-19, check out the Growth section of the Canadian City Parks Report.


Community engagement is key to support safe park use and inform recovery efforts, but cities will need to adapt their usual partnerships and strategies.

To learn more about creative community engagement strategies Canadian cities are using, check out the Collaboration section of the Canadian City Parks Report.


Canadian city parks departments must do more to ensure the wellbeing of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in parks during COVID-19.

To learn more about inclusive practices that ensure the safety and rights of people living unsheltered in parks, see the Inclusion section of the Canadian City Parks Report.


We would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to The W. Garfield Weston Foundation for its foundational support in the creation and launch of the Canadian City Parks Report.


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