Park People Research Reports:

Park People’s is committed to producing original research that highlights the challenges and opportunities in our parks.  Since our inception, knowledge generation and knowledge sharing have been core to our vision and work with parks and park groups.

Resilient Parks, Resilient City: The role of green infrastructure and parks in creating more climate-adaptive cities (Park Solution Briefs, 2017)

Resilient Parks, Resilient City explores how we can use green infrastructure in parks to create cities that are more resilient to climate change and extreme weather, while also creating opportunities for learning, social connection, and urban biodiversity.

This is the first in a series of Park Solutions Briefs which explore the challenges and opportunities facing city parks in Canada by offering inspiration, best practices, and key strategies for moving forward.

Breaking New Ground: Lessons and Impacts from the Weston Family Parks Challenge (2017)

From growing food to restoring natural habitat to bringing arts programming to parks, the Weston Family Parks Challenge kick-started a more creative, collaborative approach to green space in Toronto. Park People’s latest report, Breaking New Ground, highlights what we can learn from the Weston Family Parks Challenge, and how we can apply those lessons to other municipalities to help guide the future of park philanthropy in Canada.

Breaking New Ground was produced by Park People with funding from The W. Garfield Weston Foundation and the Ontario Trillium Foundation

Heart of the City Papers (2017)

The Heart of the City Papers are intended to spark meaningful discussion about the future of city parks in Canada. The papers were published in March 2017 as part of Park People’s Heart of the City conference, the first national city parks conference in Canada. They are the first in a series of park discussion papers on topics that push the boundaries of our thinking and provide inspiration and tangible next steps for improving and animating parks across Canada.

Sparking Change: Catalysing the Social Impacts of Parks in Underserved Neighbourhoods. Jake Tobin Garrett

Sparking Change identifies the key social impacts that occur when people get involved in parks in underserved neighbourhoods. It highlights tried-and-true strategies that have helped maximize parks’ potential to serve community development goals, increase civic engagement, support local economies, and create inclusive, welcoming public spaces. This paper is a condensed version of a larger Sparking Change paper, which you can read here.

Financing City Parks in Canada: What Might be Done? Harry Kitchen

Financing City Parks in Canada surveys the landscape of park funding in Canada, exploring options to ensure reliable and sustainable funding for Canada’s parks. The paper asks questions such as: How much should be spent on parks? How should they be financed? Who should pay? It outlines the major strengths and weaknesses of approaches and breaks down which are appropriate, realistic, and sustainable.


Green City: A Landscape Approach to the 21st-Century City. Bev Sandalack

Green City looks at how parks, once thought of as places of relief from the urban condition, should be viewed as integral with city form, helping to make our cities more sustainable and resilient in the face of climate change. The paper is a refreshing and accessible discussion of how parks have shaped the relationship between nature and society, and calls for a new approach that links good environmentalism and good urbanism through park systems.

Sparking Change (2017)

Sparking Change explores the social impacts of communities in underserved neighbourhoods becoming involved in animating and improving their local park, and identifies common strategies taken by both community members and partner organizations to support this work. The report tells the story of communities that have taken action through spearheading improvements, engaging diverse community members, and organizing events and activities that draw people into the park—a process we refer to as park engagement.

Through interviews with community volunteers, partner organizations, and city staff in seven different North American cities, including Toronto, we highlight five major social impacts of park engagement.

Sparking Change was produced by Park People with funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and TD Bank Group.

Learn more about the report and access Sparking Change resources here>>



Thriving Places (2016)

With the intensification of many communities in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, we are seeing a change in the way people use parks. Parks in higher density areas are heavily relied on by urban residents who no longer have access to private backyards for outdoor exercise and for social and cultural activities. This requires a change in the way parks have historically been planned and designed in many of these municipalities.

Thriving Places is designed as a case study toolkit highlighting new urban parks and open spaces in the Greater Golden Horseshoe that showcase creative ideas for planning, designing, programming, and engaging community in public spaces in intensifying neighbourhoods.

Thriving Places was produced by Park People with funding from the Government of Ontario through the Places to Grow Implementation Fund. Download the report here >>



Making Connections (2015)

Park People’s report ‘Making Connections’ (PDF, 7 MB) proposes strategies for creating a network of parks and open spaces that can connect our parks, ravines, hydro and rail corridors, streets, laneways, schoolyards, and other public spaces. Read the report now >

Growing Opportunities (2014)

One of the oldest parks in the City of Toronto, Allan Gardens and its historic conservatory provide a unique space in the heart of downtown Toronto amidst a diverse and bustling neighbourhood. With these assets, Allan Gardens represents an unparalleled opportunity in the city to create a truly vibrant, active public space for the surrounding community, the wider city, and visitors to Toronto—an opportunity that a renewed focus and energy can help bring to life. The report recommends that a new partnership model focus on the conservatory and adjacent gardens, with a full-time project manager needed to engage with the community, the City, and potential funders to lay the necessary groundwork for a success. Read the full report now.

Pathway to Parks – A New Way Forward for Toronto’s Parks (2011)

Timed to coincide with the with City budget deliberations and consultations on a new Parks Plan, Pathway to Parks offers Toronto Park People’s budget neutral solutions to improve Toronto’s parks. Read the report now.

Fertile Ground for New Thinking: Improving Toronto’s Parks (2010)

Executive Director Dave Harvey used his Fellowship with the Metcalf Foundation to research and write this report on improving our parks. The report was very well received and became the inspiration for launching Park People. Read the report now.