Canadians continue to face the challenges of COVID-19 as we live through year two of this global crisis. Throughout the pandemic, city parks have played an integral role in providing relief by offering green spaces for community members to exercise, socialize and reap the benefits of nature.
Three years ago, our Foundation supported Park People to fill an information gap by gathering, analyzing and sharing data and stories about Canada’s city parks system. Since that time, the annual Canadian City Parks Report has become an invaluable tool for municipal staff and volunteers to highlight challenges and share best practices with their peers across Canada.
This year’s Canadian City Parks Report provides an in-depth look at how parks can help build robust and resilient cities, especially in times of crisis. To inform the report, Park People conducted an online survey garnering nearly 3,500 responses. Canadians clearly have a lot to say about their city parks. The results of the survey show the undeniable benefits of park environments for the physical and mental well-being of community members.
The 2021 report also focuses on the crisis of climate change and the role parks can play in combatting it. It illuminates the importance of climate-resilient infrastructure to mitigate the effects of a changing climate such as floods, extreme heat and loss of biodiversity. A chapter on climate justice highlights the disparity in access to green spaces in different communities and how some cities are leading the charge to address these inequities.
Thank you to the team at Park People for creating this annual snapshot of the state of Canada’s city parks. Our Foundation is honoured to support this vital resource, and we are grateful to work with an organization that drives innovation and improvement in Canada’s urban parks.
We would also like to thank the countless municipal staff in towns and cities across Canada who have helped bring this report to life through their contributions of data, stories and experiences. It is because of their tireless work that our parks have continued to offer a respite throughout these unprecedented times.
Reading through this year’s report, I am hopeful for the future as we see the important work being done to create equitable communities, combat climate change and increase residents’ connection to nature in city parks across Canada. These efforts are vital to maintain and improve the health of our natural ecosystems and, in turn, support the well-being of all Canadians.
Chair, Weston Family Foundation