Montreal invests in parks over three years
In February 2019, Montreal committed to investing $75 million in parks and shorelines. The new program will use a set of equity criteria to direct investments to areas in most need, including family size, population density, and the poverty index of the neighbourhood.
The plan, which provides funding directly to boroughs, requires each of the 19 boroughs to renovate at least one park per year for three years, for a total of 57 renovated parks. In 2018, the City noted it spends more per hectare on parks than other Canadian cities because it has less green space per capita. This means more people use the parks that exist, causing higher maintenance costs.
Turning streets into parks in Toronto and Kingston
As cities look for more space to create and expand parks, they’re turning to the land they already own in the form of streets, which can make up about a quarter of a city’s land area.
Opened in 2017, Toronto’s revitalization of Berczy Park, a small downtown park, included the redesign of adjacent Scott Street to integrate the street with the park, allowing the street to be used as a continuation of the park when needed. This is the first instance in Toronto of connecting street and park design in this holistic manner.
And in Kingston, an expansion of Churchill Park is being made possible by turning adjacent Napier Street into parkland, potentially hosting basketball courts and other hard-surface amenities, and connecting the park to St. Mary’s Schoolyard.
Poop power: Waterloo turns dog waste into energy
As the populations of our cities grow, so too does another population—that of our four-legged barking friends. And where there are dogs, there’s dog poop. Lots of it.
In fact, Waterloo determined that between 40% and 80% of garbage in park litter bins was actually dog poop, so they decided to do something about it. Turn that poop into power!
Through a pilot that began in 2017 in three city parks, the City ships dog poop to a nearby plant where it undergoes a process that captures gases and creates fertilizer out of what’s left. The pilot reportedly diverted nearly eight tons of dog poop, converting it into enough energy to power 18 homes. The City is now expanding the pilot to four more parks.
A friendly game of pickleball, anyone?
As populations age, parks departments are fielding requests for new recreational activities like pickleball. Played with a wiffle ball and paddle, pickleball is easy to learn and doesn’t require the same sweat-inducing effort as other games like tennis.
With more and more people taking up pickleball, many cities are looking for ways to provide space for it, including converting tennis courts as Waterloo is doing. Prioritizing finesse over speed and power, pickleball is a way to offer older adults the benefits of regular exercise. Oh, and that name? It comes from a dog named Pickles, who kept stealing the wiffle ball from the first folks who played the game back in 1965.
One plan to rule them all. (Quebec City’s rivers that is)
Quebec City is developing a river plan called Rêvons nos Rivières (dreaming up our rivers) to create a single master plan for the main rivers within its borders, including the St-Charles and Du Berger, Montmorency, Beauport and Du Cap Rouge.
The plan aims to raise awareness of the rivers, imagine how they can be animated, reinforce connections to neighbourhoods, and ensure they’re planned as a signature feature of the city. The work will be conducted at three levels: the city, neighbourhoods, and river banks.
Led by the Planning, Development and Environment Department, the project was initiated in 2017 with an international competition of ideas, which helped inspire and guide the project. In parallel with these steps, the City led a series of public consultations, including the creation of an interactive mobile exhibition called the Rivièroscope. The plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
Dive in! Kingston opens an urban swimming pier
A once-polluted stretch of Lake Ontario is now open for Kingstonians to dive in. Opened in 2018, the Gord Edgar Downie Pier and upgraded Breakwater Park transformed an area with a history of sewage contamination issues into a vibrant waterfront where people can get into the water without leaving the city.
Upgrades to Breakwater Park have included a new promenade, accessibility improvements, and a pedestrian bridge to the pier. The redevelopment supports the Kingston Waterfront Master Plan and is paving the way for other Canadian cities to re-think how their waterfronts might accommodate more active uses. Swim Drink Fish Canada already has its eyes on Toronto’s Ontario Place as a site where a similar pier might be replicated.