Join us for our second national conference in Montreal June 12-14 2019. The Heart of the City Conference program features keynote talks, workshops and tours for park professionals and community leaders from across Canada.

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.

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.) In addition to his musical career, he is a professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at thel’Université du Québec en Outaouais and a researcher at the l’Institut des sciences de la forêt tempérée (Institute of Temperate Forest Sciences), where he runs the Laboratory for Ecological Economics. Dupras 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.

His research and multidisciplinary approach allow him to address how to value nature, including urban parks to foster awareness and investment in nature.

Workshop Sessions

The Heart of the City Conference will feature exciting range of workshop sessions addressing diverse themes targeting the most pressing issues in city parks, including:


  • Park Governance: Creative partnerships and governance models.
  • Building Inclusion: Ensuring our parks facilitate interactions between people of all backgrounds and foster tolerance.
  • Park Financing Models: How innovative funding opportunities can help support new park spaces, dynamic programming and revitalize existing parks.
  • Parks of the Future: Planning for parks to address rapid densification and climate change.
  • Nature in the City: Striking a balance between park use and nature conservation.
  • Parks for the Ages: Park design and programming for all ages and abilities.
  • Designing and Delivering Great Park Programming: Successful approaches to animating city parks.
  • Evaluation: Innovative methods of collecting and evaluating park use and impact.
  • Food in Parks: Innovative ideas for producing, sharing and featuring food in our parks and public spaces.
  • The Art of Building Community in Parks: How arts in parks can support community development goals. 

Tours and 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. We will provide travel discount codes upon registration.

Register for the conference:

Full conference price for professionals and govenment employees is $550 + eventbrite fee

Not-for-profit organizations are invited to apply for a subsidized rate of $200 + eventbrite fee

Volunteer community organizations are also invited to apply for subsidized registration at $50 + eventbrite fee

If the subsidized fee would stand in the way of you attending, we encourage you to reach out to us directly at

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