Canada-wide data
2023 Surveys
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The latest park data from our surveys of 35 municipalities and over 2000 residents of Canadian cities.

Policy & Planning

This year, we heard that priority issues for park planning include ensuring both quantity and quality of parkland meet community needs, planning proactively for a changing climate, and developing informed responses to encampments.

Demand For Land

Cities are feeling a parkland pinch. This year we saw a significant bump in cities reporting challenges keeping pace with population growth.

We also heard new concerns about the implications of provincial policy changes, particularly in Ontario, which limit municipalities' ability to secure adequate, quality green space into the future.

However, strong support from residents for initiatives like street-to-park conversions points to possibilities for creative solutions.

of cities said acquiring/expanding parkland to meet growth needs has been a challenge in the last year
of cities said that they face significant tensions between different levels of government (e.g. municipal vs. provincial) in their strategic work (e.g. drafting policy, planning parks).
of large cities (over 500,000 people) disagreed that the municipality is on track to have enough quality green space for people and other species by 2050.
of cities agreed that the current system of parkland dedication policies makes it challenging to meet parkland provision goals; higher at 84% for large cities of over 500,000 people.
of cities agreed that it is a challenge to advocate for more park space when other public goods such as affordable housing, child care space, and transit also require land area.
of city residents said they would like to see more streets and roadways converted to parks and pedestrian-friendly spaces.

Enhancing Amenities

Park amenities—their presence, absence, type, location, condition, and so on—have a significant impact on how people experience their local park, or even if they visit it at all.

As cities struggle to maintain existing assets and adapt to changing needs, residents continue to look for essential amenities, like washrooms, seating, and shelter from the elements.

of cities said revitalizing/redesigning parks to meet changing needs has been a challenge in the last year.
of cities said aging infrastructure and asset management has been a challenge in the last year.
of city residents said that a lack of amenities, like washrooms and seating, is a barrier to visiting parks.

Washrooms and native plantings top priorities for residents, 2nd year in a row

We asked: In the following list of amenities, please indicate which you would like to see more of in parks and green spaces?

Year-round public washrooms in parks
Native plant gardens and naturalized spaces
Covered spaces (e.g., shelter from sun or rain)
Seating that accommodates group activities (e.g., eating or socializing)
Community gardens and urban agriculture
Winter recreation amenities (e.g., ice rinks, cross-country ski trails)
Arts and culture related (e.g., outdoor theatres)
Indigenous cultural amenities (e.g., ceremonial spaces, public art)
Outdoor exercise equipment
Lending libraries (e.g., sports equipment, skates)
Moveable or adjustable seating
Public (free) wifi
Dogs off-leash areas

Universal accessibility, sports infrastructure, and trails top priorities for cities

We asked: Thinking of the park projects and initiatives your municipality has planned for the next year, please rate whether each of the following is a high, medium, or low priority in 2023.

Developing more...

  • Universally accessible designs
  • Outdoor spaces and infrastructure for organized sports
  • Multi-use trails (e.g. walking, cycling)
  • Naturalized areas in parks
  • Off-leash dog areas
  • Green infrastructure development in parks (e.g. rain gardens, bioswales)
  • Unstructured spaces to just hang out (i.e. rather than participate in organized activities)
  • Adventure play (e.g. nature playgrounds, loose parts play)
  • Privately-owned public space development (i.e. publicly accessible spaces secured by the municipality on privately owned land)
  • Digital infrastructure (e.g. wifi, park-based apps)

Climate Resilience

Planning parks for climate resilience is top of mind this year, as hurricanes, ice storms, and wildfires have left their mark on parks from coast-to-coast.

Naturalizing park spaces with native plantings is a strategy popular among cities and residents alike.

However, there remains work to be done to embed climate resiliency in citywide park plans, ensure the work is informed by an equity lens, and integrate traditional knowledge of Indigenous communities.

of cities said addressing impacts from climate change and extreme weather damage (e.g., flooding, fires, droughts) has been a challenge in the last year.
of cities disagreed that the majority of their parks are well-designed and planned to withstand the impacts of climate change.
of cities said protecting/enhancing biodiversity has been a challenge in the last year.
of cities said that promoting stewardship and reciprocity with the natural environment is a key priority in their park programs and policies.
of city residents say naturalized or "wild" green spaces are a type of park they visit most often, similar to last year's 54% but up significantly from 34% in 2021.
of city residents support naturalization efforts in parks, including 66% who strongly support.

Green infrastructure and native plantings most common strategies for climate resiliency

We asked: What strategies does your municipality currently use to plan parks for climate resilience?

We are moving away from solely relying on grey infrastructure solutions (e.g., sewer pipes) to more green infrastructure (e.g., bioswales) in managing stormwater.
We ensure each new park is planned with plants native to the area that will be equipped for surviving in a changing climate.
We use an equity-lens along with a climate-lens to ensure new parks, tree planting, and greening improvements are prioritized for equity-deserving communities.
We ensure each new park includes climate resilience infrastructure such as bioswales, permeable pavement, and related features.
We have mapped our cities urban heat island spots and use this information to inform new green spaces and tree planting strategies
We have a strategy or policy for rainwater that directs a certain amount of rainwater capture and reuse on site in our parks or newly built parks.
We partner/collaborate with local Indigenous Nations and organizations to embed this knowledge in the design, planning and programming of our parks.
We include climate change information and education signage in our parks to point out climate resilience features.
We currently have plans for or have already completed day-lighted stream projects to restore buried rivers to the surface.


Adopting human rights-based responses to encampments remains a major challenge for cities.

After many ad hoc responses during the early stages of the pandemic, we are seeing an intention among municipalities to prioritize more informed, consistent strategies moving forward.

Despite high volumes of public complaints regarding encampments, our data shows that these voices do not represent the majority. For most city residents, the presence of encampments has not disrupted their personal use of parks.

of cities said encampments and houselessness have been a challenge in the past year, including 60% that said it's a major challenge.
of cities said that developing an encampment management strategy is a high (50%) or medium (29%) priority for the next year.
of city residents said that although they've noticed an encampment(s) in their local park(s), it has not negatively impacted their personal use of parks.

Strategies & Plans Inventory

% of participating cities have strategies in place on the following topics that address parks and have been updated in the past 10 years

Park system master plan
Climate action/resilience
Dog parks

*Note: Includes 20% of cities that have a standalone biodiversity plan, and 40% of cities that have a broader environmental plan that addresses biodiversity and parks.

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Don’t see your city on the list?
Thirty-five cities participated in this year's report and we hope more will join us next year.
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