Today, more Canadians live alone than in any other time in our history. A recent Environics survey conducted by TD Bank Group found that 34% of Canadians don’t feel included in their communities. These figures show that we need to be more deliberate about fostering connections between people. What better place to do that than in our parks and public spaces?
The TD Park People Grants program was established to serve just this purpose. The $2,000 grants, awarded to 55 community groups, will help bring over 160 great events to city parks across Canada. These events range from a collective tea party for seniors at King George Park in Richmond, British Columbia, to a flash mob dance party in Montreal’s Parc Morgan:
Food is on the menu:
Many TD Park People Grants will support events where sharing food is the main course. Events range from picnics and BBQs using community garden harvests to Rocky Ridge Royal Oak Community Association’s Stampede breakfasts, anticipating over 4000 hungry attendees.In total, twenty one community meals are taking place.
Wonderful winter wonderlands:
TD Park People events will continue right into December with several groups hosting winter events including Calgary’s Light Up Montgomery Christmas Lights Festival and a family-fun-filled day of sledding, skating, nature walks, maple-syrup making, s’mores and a bonfire in Montreal’s Centennial Park.
Let’s Get physical:
Many organizations are finding fun and joyous ways to get people out and active with two dozen dance, sport, and active play events. Three different Montreal groups will host dance flash mobs, a sun set swing dance and participatory hip-hop performances. There are skateboarding events planned in Toronto and Calgary, family game days hosted across the country and pop-up adventure playgrounds hosted by Montreal’s Le Lion et la Souris. Vancouver’s Powell Street Festival Society will host its massive Asahi Tribute baseball tournament honouring the legendary Japanese Canadian baseball team that was dis-banded pre-war because of Japanese internment.
Caring for environment and nature:
Many events are focused on enjoying and encouraging stewardship of our natural environment, with a dozen community clean-ups, some anticipating over two hundred participants. Vancouver’s Seymour Salmonid Society is hosting a family fishing day and estuary clean-up. Groups are hosting nature walks, plant identification, gardening and composting workshops, or planting and exchanging seeds and plants, and two kite festivals are getting people out enjoying the elements in Toronto and Calgary.
Connecting with seniors and older adults:
Seniors are highly engaged in activities from euchre tournaments, nature sketching, and storytelling to Marpole Oakridge’s Seniors’ Skills Bank in Vancouver and the Seniors Round Dance Troupe performance at Winston Heights’ Pre-Stampede BBQ in Calgary.
A parade of festivals:
Communities will gather together and celebrate with over 3 dozen festivals planned across the country. Five different parades will feature giant puppets, celebrate pollinators, or honour cultural festivities like Ramadan and Dia de los Muertos.
Fourteen communities will host movie nights as a great way fill our parks with community well after dark.
Arts happening in parks:
Two dozen arts and culture events are funded through the TD Park People Grants. From concerts and local theatre, opera and Shakespeare in the park, to graffiti art, mosaic projects, art-in-the-park festivals and drawing classes. Cultural festivities will honour Indigenous heritage and celebrate Indigenous culture.
Among the applications to the TD Park People Grants program were beautiful expressions of what parks mean to communities across Canada.
“We are creating opportunities for connections that have the potential to impact community members on a daily basis – neighbours who check in when you are sick, check mail when you are away, and more.” Fraserview Community, Vancouver
More than 400 community park groups across Canada have signed on to the Park People Network. More than 240 groups applied to access TD Park People Grants. These numbers demonstrate that there is a critical mass of people dedicating their energy and passion to leveraging the power of parks to help people connect. It’s heartening to know that while the stats say we’re growing more and more isolated, there’s a strong and powerful counterforce working to keep us together.
Be sure to attend the TD Park People Grant funded events in your city and celebrate and bask in the hard work of passionate park people who make our parks, communities and cities awesome.
Thank you to our wonderful sponsors at TD Bank Group for supporting this incredible initiative.