CITY collaborates on research project regarding park governance and community engagement models

May 10th 2012 – The CITY Institute is collaborating with the Toronto Public Space Initiative’s (TPSI) Community Engagement Research Division, York University’s Visible City Project,  and Osgoode Law School’s Critical Research Laboratory to conduct research into various park governance and community engagement models utilized locally and internationally.

Report One of this project titled Parks, People, and Participation has been released and can be accessed here (alternatively in the background links below). The report was a collaborative work involving TPSI, the City Institute, and the Visible City Project and sets out the value of municipal parks and community engagement, as well as the direction of further research.

Part Two of the research project will involve the original collaborators as well as Osgoode Hall Law School’s Critical Research Laboratory.

Significant preliminary findings suggest that:

▪  Parks play an important aesthetic, ecological, social, and economic function in a municipality

▪  Community engagement in parks may enhance, and add to, the social and economic value of parks with enhanced health outcomes, decreased crime, improved civic engagement, community bonding and bridging, as well as economic benefits, particularly through the generation of social capital

▪  Certain alternative governance models for parks appear to offer potential financial efficacy and community engagement benefits

▪  The Public, Non-Profit model appears to be an optimal model from a financial efficacy, community engagement, and general good governance perspective, utilizing government ownership of park land with some degree of non-profit and volunteer stewardship and management

Part Two of this report will include:

▪  More in-depth information on various models and sub-models used internationally in Toronto, New York, Chicago, and London

▪  More in-depth information on the benefits, impacts and effects of community engagement in parks

▪  Functional analysis of user interaction with parks

▪  Stakeholder analysis

▪  Analysis and comparison of local geographic, economic, and government policy contexts, including fee policies, and their potential impacts on community engagement, with the utilization of GIS data

▪  In-depth information on sub-model structures, resource mobilization, and fundraising methods, as well as potential pitfalls

▪  Potential additional sub-model classifications based on contexts and patterns

▪ Critical design approaches to induce interaction with the built/natural environment



Report: Parks, People, and Participation
City of Toronto’s Five Year Parks Plan Proposal