Webinar Insights on Wellbeing and Park Investment
Discover the 5 key insights from our webinar “Healthy parks and healthy people: A (not boring) conversation about the future of park investment”. This webinar is part of our series 7 Questions: The Future of Parks and Public Spaces.
On October 22nd, Park People hosted a webinar titled “Healthy parks and healthy people: A (not boring) conversation about the future of park investment”. This webinar sparked the key insights listed below, which we hope will get communities and city staff excited about the connection between parks and wellbeing.
The webinar is part of our series 7 Questions: The Future of Parks and Public Spaces. The webinar panellists included Susan Holdsworth, Project Manager for RECOVER, City of Edmonton, Dr. Robin Mazumder, Urban Neuroscientist, Ph.D. University of Waterloo, Caroline Magar-Bisson, Park People Development Lead for Quebec, LaMeia Reddick, Community Engagement Consultant.
This session was moderated by Mary Rowe, President and CEO, The Canadian Urban Institute. In partnership with The Canadian Urban Institute.
The sustainable future of parks
Panellists spoke to the need to think beyond the traditional park funding model and look for creative partnerships and collaboration. LaMeia highlighted the need for all three levels of government to reduce silos and work in collaboration with each other. The great work happening at a community level could be better supported by the local government to deliver programming and activation.
Panellists identified the opportunities presented by shaking up the traditional model of park governance, such as community-led parks, park bonds, land trusts, the reduction or elimination of certain bylaws and permit requirements, shifting or combining public health and parks and finding better ways of working together.
The complexity of quality green spaces
The panellists acknowledged that relationships with green spaces can be complicated. Black, Indigenous and people of colour, and those who have experienced trauma may experience parks as places of respite or as places of oppression, or more likely as a complex combination of both. Panellists urged attendees to think beyond their own biases of green spaces and actively engage multiple, intersectional perspectives when designing and activating green spaces.
As Dr. Mazumder stated: “Build quality spaces, make them accessible and address the injustices of quality green spaces. It’s not just about spaces, it’s about how space is experienced.”
The connection between wellbeing and parks
To panellists, parks and green spaces provide places for people from all walks of life to connect and increase personal and community wellbeing. Sue spoke to the City of Edmonton’s RECOVER project, which used an ethnographic approach to foster an understanding of urban wellbeing. Through this research, the RECOVER team found that wellbeing is a relational phenomenon that is rooted in connection.
Parks can be leveraged as places of connection - to land and ground, to others, to bees and butterflies, to body and self, to family, friends and community - and are intrinsically connected to wellbeing.
Feeling connected to the land
LaMeia spoke to the long history of being a young Black woman in Nova Scotia. She identified that the relationships between people, land and others break down when people are repeatedly told: “you don’t belong here.”
LaMeia spoke to the need for people to claim spaces, even spaces where people do not see others like themselves. LaMeia said this is the reason she started the North Preston Surf Program, a Black youth surfing program in her community of North Preston, located just outside of Halifax.
Through this program, LaMeia and her partners hope to inspire a connection between youth, nature and the ocean early on in life. One of the program’s goals is to encourage greater opportunities for connection, wellbeing and environmental stewardship.
Designing community spaces for all season
Parks are essential community spaces in all seasons. As winter approaches, many cities are turning to their winter strategies. Sue commented that parks are easy to design for summer and encouraged urbanists to think about the design of a park in the “off-season” first.
A few key pieces that can make a difference in the use, access and design of a park in winter include the clearing of ice and snow, increasing year-round accessibility, making spaces inviting through various kinds of programming - all of these pieces will help with getting the full return on investment, year-round.
Watch the full webinar
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