Benefits of national urban parks

National urban parks will bring many benefits to Canadians:

An investment for the future

National urban parks can create jobs related to infrastructure, services, recreation, and tourism. Through park-related programming and services, national urban parks can also create opportunities for local businesses. They will attract tourism dollars from the region, across Canada, and around the world, and can draw people to greener urban centres by making them more attractive places to live in and work.

National urban parks can also create other kinds of economic benefits and cost-saving opportunities. For example, national urban parks will contribute to cleaner air and water, flood management, and help cool temperatures in hot urban centers. In addition, national urban parks can reduce healthcare needs and associated costs by supporting cleaner air and water, and increasing opportunities for people to enjoy the health benefits of spending time in nature.

Parks Canada places make significant contributions to local communities and businesses through employment and tourism, and national urban parks will add to these economic benefits. In 2018-19, Parks Canada places supported over 46,000 full-time equivalent jobs, and visitors to those places spent over $4.43 million. Parks Canada places also contribute $5.0 billion to Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP), consisting of $3.2 billion worth of labour income and $581 million in tax revenues for municipal, provincial/territorial, and federal governments.

An investment in healthier communities

Urban parks improve water and air quality, and reduce pollution and noise – which all create positive outcomes for Canadians’ health and wellbeing. National urban parks will increase urban greenspaces, places where people can take a pause and connect with nature.

Time spent in nature improves Canadians’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, and investing in national urban parks can reduce the strain on our health care system. The creation of national urban parks can also support Canadians’ health and education, as time spent in nature can improve physical and mental health, as well as academic performance.

PaRx, Canada’s national nature prescription program, points to hundreds of studies over several decades that have confirmed that spending time in nature has a clearly positive effect on our health. For example, research has shown that spending time in nature lowers the risks of stress, diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

Conservation and climate resilience

National urban parks will support Canada’s major cities in developing local solutions to biodiversity loss and dealing with the impacts of climate change. They will help adapt to climate change and contribute to national and global biodiversity targets with innovative solutions that benefit residents, businesses, and local wildlife. National urban parks will help mitigate threats to infrastructure from extreme weather events, support storm water management and soil quality, and help sequester carbon.

A 2012 study found that the Rouge National Urban Park and its surrounding watershed generates $114 million per year in non-market economic benefits such as cleaner air and water, carbon storage, and easier movement for wildlife. That’s $145 million per year in today’s dollars.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

Parks Canada is committed to nation-to-nation relationships and is engaging local Indigenous communities (treaty and Aboriginal rights holders) on each candidate national urban park.

The creation of national urban parks creates opportunities to advance Indigenous leadership and stewardship, and to create inclusive and culturally-supportive spaces for Indigenous Peoples in urban areas. National urban parks will reflect and celebrate Indigenous Knowledge, history, and culture. They will also foster economic benefits for Indigenous Peoples, including opportunities for Indigenous tourism and other businesses.

A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion

Urban parks play an important role in improving quality of life, and creating more welcoming, accessible and inclusive communities. National urban parks will create spaces for all visitors to connect with nature, learn about natural and cultural heritage, and enjoy the benefits of spending time outside. They will seek to reduce barriers to ensure that more people can have meaningful experiences in urban green space.

In response to a 2022 survey by Parks People, 79% of residents of Canadian cities said that parks have had a positive impact on their social well-being and their connection to their neighbourhood or community.

Collaboration to go further together

National urban parks will be created and governed through close collaboration between Parks Canada, local and provincial governments, Indigenous governments and organizations, and other partners across Canada. The opportunities and challenges that Canada faces today require bold action, and we can go further when many partners work together.

The National Urban Parks Program is the next step for Parks Canada whose history over 110 years has provided Canadians a system of national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas, as well as Rouge National Urban Park, the first national urban park in Canada. Parks Canada looks forward to bringing that experience to national urban parks, and to learning from our partners at each candidate site.

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