Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Park People, Toronto, new report on modern parks planning and amenities, and parks toolkit resource guides

Park People is an advocacy group for parks and open space matters in Toronto.  They have just released a report, Thriving Places, about how 21st century parks need to have more than some green space and athletic fields.

The report extends the earlier report, Making Connections: Planning Parks and Open Space Networks in Urban Neighbourhoods.
8 principles for connected parks networks, Park People, Canada
Interestingly, the new report, rather than looking to global best practice in New York, London, etc., highlighted best practice examples from Greater Toronto, with 12 case studies of spaces and 3 examples of best practice plans.

I think that's a good approach, because local officials and stakeholders tend to have a hard time grappling with examples that are far afield. But I think the local challenge is to move from one-off examples of best practice and somehow systematize the learning and "bake it into planning, standard operating procedures, and processes going forward."

From "Toronto report looks at building better parks" published in Metro:
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.
According to the article, the report also makes the point that park spaces need to be community-engaged:
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.”
To that end, a couple years ago Park People published six manuals to provide self-help guidance to community groups and citizens interested in being more engaged with their parks.

-- Park Friends Group Guidebook
-- Adopt-a-Park-Tree-Manual
-- How-to Host a Campfire in the Park
-- How-to Host a Movie in the Park
-- How-to Host a Picnic in the Park
-- How-to Connect with Nature in the Park

Like the Park Pride group in Atlanta, Park People also holds an annual parks summit for Toronto's park supporters.  It's to introduce people to best practices featuring talks by leading practitioners, bring people together to network, and to build the skill base and capacity of activists to do even better going forward.

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