As public spaces, parks act as platforms for many things. The multiple benefits of a good, animated park system for our mental and physical health, sense of community, local economies, and environmental strength are well proven. However, with tight budgets, support for programming in Canadian cities varies.
As research has shown, the existence of a park is often not enough to realize social and health benefits. It requires investment in programming and engagement to connect people. A 2016 study of neighbourhood parks in the U.S. found that each additional supervised activity in a park increased its use by 48%.
While there are great examples of creative programs being run by cities and their partners across Canada, there’s room for more supports for residents to get involved in their local parks. For example by easing permit barriers and costs, or providing funding support for local community initiatives.
No one wants over-programmed spaces either. A recent American Scholar article stated that we all need idle time in parks. This is on trend with Canadians desiring more unstructured spaces for spontaneous use. Many of us just want a place to hang out.