Park use in Canada soared during COVID, creating challenges for cities, survey finds

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MONTREAL — A new survey has found that Canadians have flocked to their local parks during the COVID-19 pandemic, creating both challenges and opportunities for cities.

The survey by charity organization Park People found that two-thirds of the 3,500 respondents it surveyed reported having spent more time in parks during the pandemic, while almost 40 per cent said their use of parks had doubled.

Cities noted the same trend, with 29 of 31 responding municipalities reporting increased park use.

While the overwhelming majority of respondents said parks had a positive impact on their mental health during the pandemic, the increased use also presents challenges for cities.

The survey authors say cities reported having incurred extra costs during the pandemic due to increased maintenance and staffing needs, at a time when they faced a funding crunch due to COVID-19.

Most cities also said they face other long-term challenges including aging infrastructure and more demand for programs and quality designs.

Most of the respondents who reported using parks more often said they planned to continue their visits, with 85 per cent saying they'd like to see increased funding for better maintenance, new amenities and more community programming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 23, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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