Our cities’ green spaces have never been more important as communities grapple with the realities of a global pandemic. Parks have been closed, and then opened, and then filled beyond capacity. Whether you are a frontline worker, a single parent with restless children, or are experiencing homelessness, our city parks have become essential spaces to restore our physical and mental well-being at a stressful and uncertain time.
The Canadian City Parks Report is an in-depth look at the state of these essential parks in municipalities across the country. This year’s report focuses on the importance of urban biodiversity, and the role that city parks can play to support and connect valuable ecosystems. Increasingly, studies show the strong connection between biodiversity and well-being, making the theme of this year’s report especially relevant.
Restoring and protecting biodiversity in Canadian landscapes is a key part of our Foundation’s mission. Scientific data tells us that biodiverse ecosystems are our best defense to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. But data is not enough—we know that in order to protect biodiversity, we need to feel connected to the land and nature that surrounds us. And as more and more Canadians move to larger urban settings, city parks offer one of the best opportunities to make those connections.
Thank you to the team at Park People for continuing to develop this valuable resource for city parks’ management and staff. Our Foundation is proud to support this important work and are grateful for all that Park People does to improve equity and inclusion, and increase connections to urban parks in Canada.
I also want to recognize and thank the dozens of municipal staff who took the time out of already busy schedules to give Park People the data and stories needed to create this report. We hope you continue to find it a valuable and useful tool to share best practices and spark conversations for the betterment of our parks and our cities.
It is reassuring to see growing commitment to improving biodiversity in cities across the country from volunteers, staff and city leaders. Now more than ever we need our parks to be healthy and thriving to meet the needs of all communities. Our well-being depends on it.
Tamara Rebanks, Chair, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation