Introduction

This report came at a strange moment.

As we worked on stories about biodiversity, creative park development, community engagement, and homelessness, the world changed around us. But it quickly became apparent that these stories were not made irrelevant, but more urgent than ever.

As COVID-19 has thrown into sharp relief, parks form a critical backbone of community infrastructure, strengthening our resilience during times of crisis. Parks are places where we grow our own food, where we let anxieties melt away on a nature walk, where we create social support networks, and even where we may find shelter during a trying time.

Work on this report started in October 2019 and while we incorporated the emerging impacts of COVID-19, much was still in flux at the time of this report’s final writing in mid-May 2020. We’ve also seen a growing and necessary conversation about racism and parks, and specifically anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism.

Publishing this report is just the start of a longer conversation about Canadian parks. Over the next year, we will be reviewing the impacts of COVID-19 and continuing to spotlight issues of equity, building on the ideas in this report with additional content. To read more on our thoughts about parks and COVID-19, please read this special blog post. And keep in touch with our continuing analysis on parks and COVID-19 on social media and by signing up to our newsletter.

The Canadian City Parks Report is an annual report on the trends and challenges facing city parks. It's not meant to be an encyclopedia of everything. Each year will shift in focus as we shine a spotlight on made-in-Canada solutions in five theme areas: nature, growth, collaboration, activation, and inclusion. The 2020 report was built on the feedback we received from the 25,000 people who visited the website and downloaded the 2019 report.

This year we dive deep into urban biodiversity—a topic of great importance as pressures on our natural environment from urbanization and climate change threaten the ecosystems that sustain us. We have not only reported stories and compiled key data, but created an online biodiversity resource library where you can learn more about biodiversity’s connection to climate change, well-being, Indigenous land management, habitat restoration, and more.

You’ll also find stories on how scarce and expensive land (and now physical distancing measures) is driving innovative new public spaces, how we can more meaningfully engage people, and what cities can do to lead the conversation about homelessness and parks with care—a topic that has taken on heightened importance due to COVID-19.

Our goal with the Canadian City Parks Report is to provide opportunities for shared learning, increased action, and inspiration. We hope you find stories that resonate with you, but also challenge your thinking. And that you come away feeling invigorated about Canadian city parks and what you can do to make them even a little bit better in your community.

Don't See your City on the List?

Twenty-seven cities participated in this year's report and we hope more will join us next year.

Learn how to participate in 2021