Parks define quality of life in our cities. 

Attend the only National Conference focused exclusively on city parks across Canada.

Be among the cross-section of 200 people in attendance including park professionals and community leaders whose work focuses on leveraging the power of city parks. 

Heart of the City is hosted by Park People, the organization that supports and mobilizes people to help them activate the power of parks to improve quality of life in cities across Canada.

Join us in Montreal June 12-14 2019.





Keynote Speakers

Rena Soutar

Rena Soutar is the first Reconciliation Planner at Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. In this role, Soutar works with the Park Board, the City of Vancouver and First Nations communities to uphold the organizations’ commitment to the 11 Reconciliation strategies, as well as the Board’s endorsement of the mission to “decolonize the Park Board”. Soutar works cross-departmentally on  projects such as park naming and monuments, memorials and public art processes and policies to ensure integration of Indigenous history, heritage values and memory practices. At the root of Soutar’s work is the belief that:  “There’s no such thing as a culturally neutral space.”

Soutar’s role is to help the park board be “an evolvable organization in which every employee and commissioner recognizes the humanity in themselves by recognizing and respecting the humanity of First Peoples” and one that sets an example in treating reconciliation as a process of decolonization.

Prior to her work as Reconciliation Planner, Soutar worked with the Cultural Planner for several years. She has worked on project consultations with the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Lil’wat peoples in environmental, cultural, and intergovernmental contexts. Her engagement with Aboriginal artists on public art installations includes outreach to every province and territory across Canada. She is the author of Songhees, a cultural biography of the Songhees Nation in Victoria, BC. She is also editorial contributor to “O Siyam: Aboriginal Art Inspired by the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games”, a book chronicling the Venues Aboriginal Art Program, a project which she also coordinated.

Read more about Rena >>

Jérôme Dupras

Jérôme Dupras is the bassist for the Cowboys Fringants and President of the fondation pour la protection de l’environnement (Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.)

His research and multidisciplinary approach are focused on building a scientific method that can be used to value nature, including urban parks to foster greater awareness and investment in nature. He works at both a grassroots level and with major stakeholders and decision-makers to help spread new thinking and engagement in the environment.

Dupras also has a very successful musical career and his band is a platform for spreading engagement in several issues, including environmental ones. 

A professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at l’Université du Québec en Outaouais and a researcher at the l’Institut des sciences de la forêt tempérée (Institute of Temperate Forest Sciences), Dupras runs the Laboratory for Ecological Economics. He holds a Ph.D. in Geography from the Université de Montréal and a postdoctoral degree in Biology from McGill University.

Dupras’ scientific work was recently recognized by the Government of Quebec when he received the Quebec Emerging Science Award. He continues to be Involved in several conservation and greening projects, including being Co-Founder of the Green Belt Movement and spearheading the planting of 375,000 trees for the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

Read more about Jerome>>







Conference workshops will address diverse themes targeting the most pressing issues in city parks, including:

Creative Partnerships:

Effectively harnessing the power of partnerships between municipalities, park groups, landowners and social housing communities with Les amis de la montagne, Green Change, Grange Park, and Park People.

Building Inclusion:

Hear from speakers from Halifax to Vancouver including Lezlie Lowe, Execo, and the Powell Street Festival Society about how to ensure that parks foster tolerance, balance user needs and facilitate interactions among people from all walks of life.

Financing Models:

Explore innovative funding models to create, improve and animate parks in communities with insights from the Edmonton Federation of Community leagues, Parks Foundation Calgary, and the Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal.

Parks for the Future:

Insights on designing parks to address rapid densification and climate change in our cities with DTAH, the City of TorontoSociété du parc JeanDrapeau, and the Vancouver Park Board.

Nature in the City:

Tools and tactics to connect city-dwellers with nature and balance conservation with high use areas with Parks Canada, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

Great Park Programming: 

A hands-on workshop with Jamii, Calgary Parks, The Bentway and Quartier des spectacles on how to create impactful, inclusive, programming that meets community needs in all seasons.

Parks for All: 

Join 8-80 Cities, the Toronto Skateboarding Committee and the Rick Hansen Foundation in a deep discussion about accessibility, balancing park uses, and designing and programming parks for all ages.

Evaluating Park Use and Impact:

The Vancouver Park Board, Sidewalk Labsand Centre d’écologie urbaine de Montréal address current measurement tools and methodologies that help parks be more responsive to user needs, and their impacts more clearly understood.

Growing the Local Food Movement:

Dig into the essentials of community food growing in our parks and public spaces featuring Grand River Food Forestry, Greenest City, Spence Neighbourhood Association and Hope Blooms.  

The Art of Building Community in Parks:

Discover the power of art and art-making in our public spaces with groundbreaking community artists Val VintWander’neath, MABELLEarts and Dramatic Changes  

Frank Advice from Funders:

A special session from key park funders to provide key insights to improve your chances of securing funding for your next park project.  






Networking Receptions

Build relationships with park people from across Canada at receptions set against the backdrop of iconic Montreal parks, including:

Tours & walking workshops

Join us for tours and walking workshops featuring Montreal’s iconic and innovative parks, initiatives, and public spaces, including:

Travel & accommodation in Montreal

Park People has reserved a block of rooms at L’Hôtel de l’ITHQ and has secured a 10 % discount with WestJet and with VIA Rail 

The reserved block of rooms at L’Hôtel de l’ITHQ will not be available after April 30th.

We have also booked a block of rooms, with a 10% discount, at M-Montreal, a hostel 3 minutes walk from the main conference venue BaNQ . We will provide travel discount codes upon registration.  There are also many great AirBnB options nearby. We will provide travel discount codes upon registration.







Heart of the City will bring together a unique mix of park professionals and community leaders. We are offering subsidized pricing for non-profit and community park groups. 

Registration for NGO’s and Community Park Groups opens April 15th

Registration rates:

  • Park Professionals, Municipal Staff & Individuals:    $550 + fees
  • Non Profit Organization – Subsidized Rate:                $200 + fees Available starting April 15                                              
  • Volunteer Community Park Group – Subsidized Rate:             $50 + fees  Available starting April 15  

If you are uncertain which rate applies to you, please reach out to

Subscribe for Conference updates:

Park People has a newsletter just for Conference updates. Subscribe for regular updates and Conference developments.

Thank you to our generous supporters: