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Toronto report looks at building better parks

As cities change, their parks need to change with them, says a new report from Toronto Park People.

The Berczy Park redevelopment, slated to open this summer, is a great example of new public space in a vertical neighbourhood, according to Park People’s Jake Tobin Garrett.

Liz Beddall/Metro

The Berczy Park redevelopment, slated to open this summer, is a great example of new public space in a vertical neighbourhood, according to Park People’s Jake Tobin Garrett.

As cities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe grapple with how to create new public green spaces in densifying neighbourhoods, a new report highlights 15 projects that point the way forward.

“As we continue to grow and intensify, we need to ensure we are creating places for people,” said Jake Tobin Garrett, Park People’s manager of policy and research and the report’s author. “It's important to look outside of your traditional idea of what a park can be.”

Urban parks need more than a bit of green space and some dedicated sport facilities to meet the needs of residents who lack their own private outdoor spaces, the report says. The parks highlighted in the report support a wide variety of uses, including farmers’ markets, movie nights, community barbecues, outdoor yoga classes and cultural festivals.

The challenge, according to Garrett, is finding space for all those uses in small or unlikely locations. The report cites a number of linear parks planted along transit corridors and streets that can allow for such diverse programming.

“We should be looking at our public streets as a resource for public space,” Garrett said.

Garrett said the design and planning is a vital starting point, but a successful park will need community driven programming too.

“A park is more than just its design,” he said. “It's the people that use the space.”

A panel will discuss the report’s finding at the Urbanspace Gallery at 401 Richmond St. West on May 26 starting at 6:30 p.m.

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