From small towns to cities, green space is for everyone: Toronto

août 20, 2020
Park People

This contribution from Carolyn Schotchmer is part of Park People’s A Day at the Park series, exploring how city parks shape us. Be sure to check out all of the contributors throughout the summer months. 

In the 20 years I have lived in Toronto, I’ve seen how much parks and green spaces can transform this city and the experiences of those that live here. With our busy lives, it can be easy to forget how much we enjoy these spaces, as we too often, intentionally or unintentionally, overlook them as we run through our daily routines. A patch of trees that line your walk home, a small park in the neighbourhood that provides a moment to connect with nature, a community garden that brings people together – these are spaces that nurture something great for everyone and are just a few of the many examples that demonstrate how green space can completely change a city for the better.


Rosedale Valley Road. 


Looking back on my years growing up in a small town, I didn’t feel the same need for formal parks, simply because we had so much more space to enjoy. The opportunities to connect with nature in small towns and rural areas are generally more abundant – I spent hours as a child exploring the trees, plants and other critters in our yard and those of our neighbours. But when you visit or live in a city, those opportunities are not as obvious and nature is not as integrated into life. I struggled with living in Toronto at first for this reason, feeling disconnected from the natural world, and under the mistaken impression that I had to leave the city to find it. It wasn’t until I found a job that connected me to natural parks all over the city that I realized Toronto could be a place I belonged to. Aside from the large, well-known ‘signature’ parks like High Park and the Toronto Islands, Toronto is also home to great natural areas that aren’t immediately noticeable. The next time you are walking around the city, pay special attention to green spaces – big or small – that you may have glossed over the first time you passed by. From ravines to courtyards, there are examples across the city of spaces that we forget about but that can provide a meaningful connection to nature.


Grange Park.

For those living in Canada’s urban areas, it is crucial to have spaces where we can connect with nature and each other, because without those moments, city life is exhausting. During times like these when gathering indoors is incredibly limited, we are reminded even more of why we need to maintain, revitalize and support green spaces in Toronto. A shortage of green space isn’t just an issue for local ecosystems and city infrastructure, it’s an issue for residents too. We need areas where we can unplug, and for those that cannot easily travel to places with fewer people or larger open spaces, we need local spaces that we can enjoy safely. We can help ensure this exists by continuing to build green space into the urban design process and improving existing spaces at the municipal level.



Greenest Citys Hope Garden Masaryk Park in 2011.

Parks and other green spaces make cities like Toronto more sustainable and inclusive. They contribute to our individual and communal well-being. The next time you’re enjoying a natural area, take in what that means to you and to your community. It’s the difference that makes a city flourish.



About Carolyn Scotchmer

Carolyn Scotchmer is the executive director of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF), where she oversees the operations of the Foundation and leads a team of regional managers to support community-based environmental initiatives across Canada. She is also responsible for the Canadian corporate environmental giving portfolio for TD Bank Group, to help deliver on the bank’s corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment.

Carolyn joined TD in 2012 to manage the Foundation’s giving in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces and to help raise awareness of TD’s corporate environmental programs in the regions. Prior to joining the bank, she spent more than 10 years in the charitable sector in Toronto and Calgary, developing and managing programs focused on community development through urban greening and community gardening.


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This contribution from Carolyn Schotchmer is part of Park People’s A Day at the Park series, exploring how city parks shape us. Be sure to check out all of the contributors throughout the summer months.