The latest park data from our surveys of 35 municipalities and over 2000 residents of Canadian cities.
Municipal leaders and city residents alike recognize that parks intersect with some of the most pressing challenges of our time.
Beyond their traditional role as places of leisure, parks are now understood as essential to public health, climate resilience, and community connection.
However, a vision for parks in addressing social equity lags behind, with issues like anti-racism, houselessness, and green gentrification receiving less focus. This is true although 83% of cities noted that there has been increased dialogue about systemic inequities in their parks department since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
This gap in vision mirrors a gap in skillsets, as parks staff were less likely to feel equipped with adequate knowledge and tools to engage with these same topics. It is also reflected in intragovernmental collaboration patterns, with parks departments working more closely with departments that manage physical infrastructure (e.g. planning, engineering) than those focused on social issues (e.g. anti-racism/equity office, Indigenous affairs).
Strong vision for parks supporting health, climate, connection
We asked: To what extent do you see a role for the parks sector in addressing the following issues?
City staff need greater support to address inequities
We asked: Of these issues, which do you currently feel equipped with the knowledge/tools to address through your work in parks?
Collaboration focused on built infrastructure
We asked: Please indicate the extent to which your parks department has collaborated with the following departments or divisions within your municipal and/or provincial governments in the past year.
Collaboration may be informal (e.g. seeking input from staff in another division on a park project) or formal (e.g. an interdepartmental working group).
City residents continue to report well-being boost
We asked: In the past year, parks have had a positive impact on my…
Parks seen as more than leisure spaces
We asked: In thinking about the different benefits parks provide, how would you rate each of the following elements on their importance in cities?
- Providing space for leisure and recreation
- Allowing people to meet basic needs (i.e. washrooms, places to sit, grow food in community gardens, etc.)
- Enhancing biodiversity and climate resilience
- Supporting community cohesion and social connection