Spread the News!
If you have news to share on exciting projects, initiatives or success stories for your CiB program, please send the information or direct link to the CiB article to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (514) 694-8871 for more details.
We’re looking forward to reading about your community!
*The articles in this section are published under its original language.
- Community Gardens Winning Awards
Community Gardens Winning Awards
By: Jeff Gibson, Ball Horticultural IGC, Landscape & University Trials Garden Manager
For the past eight years I’ve had the pleasure to participate as a judge for the All-America Selections (AAS) Display Garden Contest. The theme for the 2021 contest was “Diversity in the Garden.”
For those of you not familiar with the All-America Selections organization, it is the only public trialing and evaluation program for flowers and vegetables in the United States and Canada. Each year, more than 50 garden sites are provided seed and/or young plants of the newest varieties from plant breeders to evaluate in regional locations. They are judged for performance over the course of a season, and then awarded points. The winners are recognized and promoted to the consumer garden media community as well as to the horticultural industry at large.
The AAS Display Garden Contest was created to allow public gardens that are not necessarily a trials site to have access to AAS-winning plants, and to help in the promotion of the importance of a program like AAS.
The contestants for the 2021 design contest were public gardens (large and small) across North America. The gardens were judged on a number of categories: Use of All-America Selections varieties – both flowers and vegetables; incorporation of the chosen theme; publicity and community engagement; and overall garden appearance and appeal.
I am always struck by the amount of community engagement there is for these gardens. All of them mainly rely on volunteers; only the largest public gardens have staff. So this is truly a grassroots effort! I take judging these gardens very seriously as there are many folks at the sites who have spent hours on planning, planting and maintaining their public garden spaces.
These designers tend to be enthusiastic gardeners, but not always at a professional level. However, they all are willing to stop and talk about gardening and landscaping. And their exciting designs go a long way to contribute to community beautification efforts in their cities and towns.
Several of the AAS display garden winners hailed from Canada in 2021, including second-place winner Montreal Botanical Garden (Montreal, Quebec) and third-place winner Domaine Joly-De Lotbinière (Sainte-Croix, Quebec). (Photos courtesy of All-America Selections.)
Montreal Botanical Garden (Montreal, Quebec)
Domaine Joly-De Lotbinière (Sainte-Croix, Quebec)
If you are interested in participating in the annual AAS display garden contest, please visit https://all-americaselections.org/how-to-become-a-display-garden/
For a list of all 2021 AAS display garden winners, visit https://all-americaselections.org/landscape-design-contest-winners-2020/
- A Garden for Every School!
A Garden for Every School!
Scotts Canada Gro for Good – School Garden Edition
helps Year of the Garden Achieve Its Goal
By Karen Stephenson Director, Regulatory Affairs & Stakeholder Relations for Scotts Canada
It’s the Year of the Garden! For many of us who are avid gardeners or subscribe to the belief that garden projects can bring communities together, every year is a year for gardening. But with a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and over 1.3 million Canadians trying gardening for the first time in the past 2 years, there is even more reason to be excited about the upcoming gardening season. In 2022, it is time to celebrate and appreciate all that gardens and gardening have provided for us over the decades and especially over these last few difficult years. We believe that Year of the Garden 2022 has come at an opportune time to help all Canadians emerge from the pandemic and celebrate together.
Scotts believes in the power of gardening, and that is why we have aligned ourselves with many of the objectives that have been set for the Year of the Garden 2022. One of the ways we are recognizing the Year of the Garden is with our Gro for Good – School Edition Grant program. This year in addition to our usual Gro for Good Grants, Scotts Canada has offered schools across Canada the opportunity to be awarded a special grant to build or expand a garden. This supports the Year of the Garden’s objective to see a garden at every school.
School gardens provide unique benefits for both educators and students. From an educator’s perspective gardens provide an action-oriented learning experience, allowing them to turn their school yards into outdoor classrooms. Numerous subjects can be addressed when engaging in gardening – topics ranging from plant biology to food sustainability. Used as a tool for learning, gardens can bring together many disciplines in a meaningful way, such as science, math, language arts, social sciences, and art.
Students also receive countless beneﬁts from digging in the soil, nurturing seedlings, watching their garden grow, and harvesting their crops. School gardens can become vital learning environments that allow students to:
• Engage in hands-on learning about issues eﬀecting plant nutrients, soil science, food production, and lifecycles;
• Get outdoors and engage in physical activity;
• Learn about nutrition, health, and food security;
• Build environmental knowledge and stewardship skills; and
• Foster collaboration, teamwork, and leadership in the community.
With so many benefits, it is no surprise that advocates for gardening and horticulture aim to have a garden at every school in Canada. Scotts Canada is pleased to be making a contribution to that goal with this year’s Gro for Good – School Garden Edition Grants. We are looking forward to a year long celebration of gardens and gardening. And whether you are young or just young at heart, everyone is welcome to join the gardening family!
- Year of the Garden 2022
Proclaim 2022 as the Year of the Garden
Join the following communities and Proclaim 2022 as the Year of the Garden!Amherstburg, ON
Barrhead, AB (County)
Bay Bulls, NL
Bay Roberts, NL
Campbell River, BC
Conception Bay South, NL
Courtenay, BCCumberland, BC
Dawson Creek, BC
East St. Paul, MB
Elliot Lake, ON
Flin Flon, MB
Fort McMurray, AB
Fort Qu’Appelle, SK
Greater Napanee, ON
Greater Sudbury, ON
Indian Head, SK
Lincoln, ON Magnetawan, ON Mamora and Lake, ON Melfort, SKMinto, ON
Moose Jaw, SK
Niagara Falls, ON
Norfolk County, ON
North Glengarry, ON
Pincher Creek, AB
Port Hope, ON
Powell River, BC
Red Deer, AB (City)
Red Deer, AB (County)
Rideau Lakes, ON
Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, QCSainte-Anne-des-Plaines, QC
St. Andrews, NB
St. Catharines, ON
Stettler, AB (Town)
Stettler, AB (County)
Thames Centre, ON
Thunder Bay, ON
Wellington County, ON
West Grey, ON
Our Invitation to All Canadian MunicipalitiesCommunities in Bloom and the Canadian Garden Council invite municipalities to proclaim 2022 as the Year of the Garden for their citizens to acknowledge all the benefits that Gardens and Gardening provide.By joining Canada’s celebration of the Year of the Garden 2022 municipalities will demonstrate leadership and inspire and engage citizens using evidence-based information and actions to contribute to the sustainability of Canadian municipalities.
What is The Year of the Garden 2022?
The Year of the Garden 2022, a Centennial Celebration of Canada’s horticulture sector from January 1 to December 31, 2022, will commemorate Canada’s rich garden heritage, celebrate today’s vibrant garden culture, and create important legacies for a sustainable future.
Planning is underway for a year of exciting activities, celebrations, special events and promotions that will take place in communities, schools, businesses, public gardens, and backyard gardens in all parts of Canada.
Join the Celebration and Proclaim 2022 as the Year of the Garden in Your Municipality
Join Canada’s Garden-Family – thousands of plant growers, product manufacturers, retailers, landscape service providers, public gardens and garden experience providers, garden clubs and societies, and affiliated businesses – which will be sharing their knowledge and offering events to help Canadians Live the Garden Life.
The Year of the Garden 2022 is a unique opportunity for a municipality to engage citizens and the community to highlight and impact priorities such as:
- Post COVID Recovery
- Quality of Life
- Healthy Citizens
- Environmental Climate Action
- Economic Growth
- Enhance Cultural Vibrancy
- Reconciliation and Inclusivity
- Tourism Destination Readiness
The Year of the Garden 2022 campaign will reach and inspire the public to learn about the connections gardens and gardening have with many important community quality of life benefits including:
- Integration of more plants into city life: tree canopy, community gardens, public parks, green roofs, green infrastructure
- More plants and more gardens produce more oxygen, sequester more carbon, mitigate heat island effect in urban areas
- Engaging Canadians in the Federal government’s commitment to plant 2 billion trees, and commitment to fight Climate Change
- Contribute to attaining sustainable development goals
- Gardens and gardening generate economic activity for the garden family sector
- Impact of public garden visitation, a demonstrated major tourism draw
- Generate economic development, attracting residents, businesses, and visitors in communities across the country
- Enhancing quality of life favours economic stability of Canadians
Health and Wellness Benefits
- The relation between improved health and gardening is well documented
- Active living for all ages
- Contribute to healthier Canadians and reduced health costs
- Engage Canadians with Canada’s healthy eating strategy
- Better understanding of the role gardens and gardening play in the development of communities and our country
- contribute to the reconciliation with our First Nations that live in harmony with nature and plants
- Contribute to Canada’s inclusivity agenda since “in the garden there are no differences”, just plants, and people of all ages and cultures who love them
- support the integration of a garden culture in schools and community gardens
Our Proposal: Invite your municipality to:
- Proclaim 2022 as the Year of the Garden in your municipality
- Commit to becoming a Garden Friendly City
- Recognize National Garden Day in your municipality
Here are the links we are offering you:
- Hot tips for the cool season
Hot tips for the cool season
Freshen up spring with these pops of colour
By Jeff Gibson, Ball Landscape Business Manager
When the weather breaks and landscapes burst forth with renewed colour, it lifts our spirits and excites us for the spring season ahead. It’s unfortunate this time of year is so short-lived, but you still can offer customers that brief “pop of colour” using tried-and-true pansy and viola varieties, along with other plants that can take the chill. Here’s a few fresh and colourful plant recommendations.
Spreading Pansy Cool Wave® Raspberry Swirl & Strawberry Swirl
Spreading pansies are THE choice for early-spring hanging baskets and containers. You’ll want your grower to provide them in 5″/12cm pots to maximize their spreading habit.
Alyssum Snow Crystals
Alyssum Clear Crystal® Lavender Shades
An added bonus to these alyssum choices is their softly fragrant blooms. Perfect for baskets or spillers in containers.
Dianthus Coronet™ Strawberry
Crowned with huge flowers, this low-growing dianthus makes a colourful statement in landscape borders or planters.
Pansy Panola® Silhouette Mixture
As its name implies, Panola is a pansy that acts like a viola – the best of both worlds! The plants have larger flowers, stand up to the weather, and have a vigorous habit for good flower show.
Viola Sorbet® XP Lemon Jump Up
The “XP” stands for Extra Performance. These plants are small but mighty – tough, tough, tough! Best planted in masses 6″/15cm on center. They have fast fill-in and are rain, snow and wind tolerant.
Tips for success
Choosing spring flower colours may be a simple process, but it’s a successful installation that makes all the difference. Here are a few additional pointers from the experts at Ball.
Bigger IS better. For northern landscapers, planting pansies into soil that’s roughly 10°C or cooler in spring is your biggest challenge to plant growth and fill-in. Installing bigger plants in larger containers will get you over that. “Cracking colour” is the state you want your plants to be in when you receive them. Work with your grower to harden off the plants (finish them outside) prior to planting.
Avoid root compaction – period! Disease will easily set in if you plant pansies into compacted soils in the spring. Compaction doesn’t allow rapid root development and can aggravate water sitting at the root level, leading to water logging and disease. Most growers will apply a fungicide prior to ship. Ask if that’s the case.
Lack of feed shortens bed time on pansies. Liquid fertilizer is best 1 to 1.5 weeks after planting to supercharge the roots. Purple leaves mean “feed me” (phosphorus in particular). That will get your pansies to look their best until the summer turn. Pansies are one of the low pH-loving plants (others are petunias and primulas).
With these helpful tips and fresh recommendations of colour, it will be easy for you to enjoy the early season.
- Fall Behind, Spring Forward
Fall Behind, Spring Forward
By Jeff Gibson Ball Seed Landscape Business Manager
No, the title of this article doesn’t have to do with changing your clocks back. I’m talking about having our scheduled Fall landscape plantings behind us, and taking the time now to think about your Spring and Summer plantings for 2021.
But you may be thinking, “My clients can’t even think about that right now. They are still months away from making up their minds for Spring, let alone Summer color!”
Any other year that would be fine and good. But be warned: The COVID-19 outbreak has created an unprecedented demand for plants at garden retailers and for residential landscapes. The predictions are positive for similar demand for next year. Many growers – particularly nursery growers – anticipate higher demand and earlier. So if you’re waiting to book Spring and Summer color for later, you may want to contact your grower NOW to re-confirm order-by dates or give them a preliminary order for what you know you have on contract already.
As for what to order, here are a few items to consider adding to your color containers and planting beds for next season.
Beacon® Impatiens are living up to the promise of being highly resistant to Impatiens downy mildew as cooler, wetter nights settle in. Beacon Rose is a new color added to the series for 2021.
Marvel II™ African Marigold will be a taller (18″/46cm) solution for gold, yellow and orange Summer plantings. Double Zahara™ Yellow Improved Zinnia would also work for hot and dry areas needing a pop of color.
For containers or mixed combinations, award-winning Bee’s Knees Petunia is a fantastic new yellow that lasts all summer long.
For residential clients hoping to attract pollinators (birds, bees and butterflies), the new Echinacea Artisan™ collection would be perfect for sunny landscapes. Two new colors are launched: Red Ombre and Soft Orange.
For a comprehensive look at 2021 new varieties, visit BallLandscape.com/Presentations. Let’s keep the excitement flowing for plants in the new year, but remember: Better planning starts with earlier communication.Continue reading →
- Gardening in the classroom!
Gardening in the classroom!
In light of Covid-19, the Nutrient for Life Foundation is still reaching out to students in the classroom. In early October, Regional Manager Kent Lewarne was invited into Crystal City Early Years School, Manitoba. Kent worked with Mrs. Leadbeater to ensure all of the activities followed their Covid-19 school protocols to keep everyone safe.
Over the hour and a half presentation, Kent had the students busy learning about soil and what plants need to grow. To ensure the students have success with growing, they used one of the Foundations light gardens.
Here are these activities:
- “Roots and Shoots” – Wrapped paper towel around a pencil, placed it in a test tube and then placed four seed between glass and paper towel (two bean, two radish) and wet the paper towel. The students were able to watch the seeds germinate and grow of roots and shoots.
- Soil Types – Students each received two small bags of soil. One was a Sandy Soil from a local potato field. Students were led through the beginnings of hand texturing: they saw that the sandy soil made a very fragile ball and broke apart easily. We then went on to the second sample which was a clay soil from near the Red River: students saw that this soil made a fantastic ball and we could make a “snake” and flatten it.
- Which Soil is the Best? – Student received three samples of soil – a sandy soil, a garden soil and a potting soil. Students filled one “peat pot” with each soil and added lettuce Seeds. They labelled each pot with a stick and compared the growth of lettuce in the three growing mediums over the following weeks.
- Wheatgrass – finally with the potting soil the students had left we placed it in a cup and covered the surface with wheat seeds. Many students live on a farm but not many have seen wheat germinate up close. The teacher will later let them give their cups a “Haircut”. The teacher is hopeful that she can make wheatgrass juice from it and smoothies for her class if Covid rules allow.
If you would like to learn more about our Nutrients for Life or to invite us to your local school, please send an email to email@example.com. Visit our website for free downloads, soil and plant science materials.
The soil beneath our feet is the foundation for world food security. By leading the development and delivery of plant nutrient educational programming we ensure Canadians are informed and contributing to solutions that sustainably grow healthy plants and protect our land, air and water for future generations.Continue reading →
- Grazie mille a Cervia !
Cervia is well known in Europe for the annual Cervia Città Giardino (Cervia Garden City), a widespread exhibition of gardens and horticultural display in public areas throughout the municipality.
The event, which held, in “COVID-19” mode, its 48th edition in 2020, involves each year more than 60 participants among institutions, schools and various organizations along with mostly European cities to offer the best and most stunning artworks that can be created with plants and flowers.
Since 2016, Asproflor has coordinated the creation of a “Communities in Bloom Garden” to recognize their involvement in the International Challenge. Mauro Paradisi, Construction Engineer from Turin, a Judge for Comuni Fioriti and International Judge for Communities in Bloom has designed and constructed the gardens.
In 2016, the garden introduced Communities in Bloom, in 2017 Canada’s 150th Anniversary was celebrated and in 2018, the garden featured Strathcona County Alberta, host of the Symposium and Awards.
In 2019, the City of Castlegar BC and Lewes DE USA, under the artful guidance of Evelyn Alemanni (Escondido, CA USA), a Communities in Bloom International judge, were the first communities to represent Communities in Bloom by building their own gardens. Two groups of volunteers gardeners traveled to Cervia to build their gardens, with the generous support of Cervia, its gardeners and citizens.
In 2020, faced with the COVID-19 pandemic, Cervia decided to hold, respecting health authorities guidelines, the 48th edition, by having their staff replicate the 2019 gardens …all on their own: a true testament to their dedication: Grazie Mille, Cervia !
Comune di Cervia, as it does every year, maintained the gardens throughout the summer. The gardens and their communities are featured with descriptive signage on site, on line and in promotional publications.
Communities in Bloom is thankful to Cervia Città di Giardino for demonstrating the values of horticulture, green spaces and floral displays …and for promoting the program and showcasing our communities.
Here is a link to their latest video that shows how much their citizens care about greenery : https://www.facebook.com/cerviacittagiardino/posts/2642564489289395
The participation of Canada in Cervia Città di Giardino has an additional “Canadian” meaning as Cervia was amongst the Italian communities liberated by the Canadian Armed Forces in October 1944 during the battles of WWII: 5 Canadian Soldiers lost their lives during the battles for the liberation of Cervia.
To this date, in recognition of the liberation and the support provided following the battles, Cervia honors their memory every year with an annual ceremony on October 22. In 2017, a new plaque honoring all five fallen soldier was unveiled at Piazza Garibaldi as part of a re-enactment of the liberation of Cervia.
- Town of Castor Benefits from Green Jobs Initiative
The Town of Castor, Alberta offers many outdoor spaces – including the community’s walking trails, fish pond, and creek.
This summer, these spaces were maintained and beautified for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Thanks to funding from the CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative, which is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Summer Work Experience program, the Town of Castor was able to hire university student Shaelyn Hewitt as a Green Initiatives Coordinator.
“My job allows me to beautify green spaces and turn them into something people can enjoy,” says Shaelyn, adding that people feel encouraged to go outside and appreciate nature more when everything is well maintained. “Our town has many trails, parks and sitting areas outdoors we take care of for everyone to enjoy.”
As Green Initiatives Coordinator, Shaelyn kept the town looking its best. Among many of her tasks, she watered plants, cut the grass, and trimmed trees.
But Natasha Bozek, the Town of Castor’s Recreation Director, says that there was much more to Shaelyn’s job.
“While many of our summer positions are focused on grass cutting, tree trimming and garbage collection, this job also focused on a recycling program, tree planting program planning, organic weed control, waste reduction strategies and green space beautification,” says Natasha.
She adds that Shaelyn’s green job enabled the Town to move its green initiatives forward, and showed residents that its green spaces are valued.
“It shows our residents that we are working on making our community a better place to live, work and play,” says Natasha.
The funding also allowed the Town to dedicate resources to green initiatives, which Natasha says may otherwise not have been prioritized.
If given the opportunity, Natasha says the Town would definitely apply for the funding again.
“It is always of great help to a small town to have additional student support, and renewed funding would allow us to continue to work on green initiatives in the future,” she says.
Shaelyn adds that this is the third year she has worked a summer job in the town’s public works department, and she feels like she is making a difference in the community. Through her work, she has gained a new perspective of what goes into public works and how it helps people enjoy the outdoors and appreciate nature.
“It’s much more than just ‘keeping the town pretty’. There are many aspects of my job that I enjoy. I work alongside incredible staff which makes my job a lot of fun,” she says, noting that she would love the opportunity to work for the town again. “I love having a job that keeps me active and outside all summer. Having an opportunity to have so much control over what our town looks like is an honour. I love being able to create a nice space for our citizens to enjoy.”
The CPRA’s Green Jobs Initiative supports Goal 3 ‘Connecting People & Nature’ and Goal 5 ‘Recreation Capacity’ within the Framework for Recreation in Canada. The Framework serves as a foundation for the work of the parks and recreation sector.
-30-Continue reading →
- Parks, Trails and COVID 19
Well the year 2020 will be a year we will remember for a very long time. It feels like we went to bed and woke up to a completely different world. This new world we woke up to significantly changed how we managed our daily life. It didn’t just change our lives in Canada but around the whole world. What became clearly evident very early in the pandemic was how people would react to what would be the new normal for months to come.
Initially you would think that food, communication, and finances would be front and centre, however there was an unexplained infatuation to hoard, of all things, toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper or lack of, caused what we would consider normal balanced citizens to engage in unprecedented line ups, arguments, price gouging and even unethical reselling at inflated prices.
Thankfully this wave of misguided panic slowly subsided and very quickly the real issues began to emerge. As the positive cases of Covid 19 increased including major sickness and deaths, reality had set in and now there were a whole new set of rules. One of those new normal rules to come into effect was initially called Social Distancing, later to be referred to as Physical Distancing which better articulated the intent of the rule. This one new rule, or mandated behaviour would change the way we communicated, recreated and moved within our communities. Not only did this new Physical Distancing mandate effect our personal lives, it spilled over into every business and service area in Canada including our Parks and Trails Sector.
Our Parks and Trails professionals are no strangers to challenging situations whether they are in the form of ice storms, SARS, flooding, snowstorms, power outages and tornadoes to name a few. With all that in mind no previous event posed as many challenges to our Parks and Trails sector as the Covid 19 Pandemic.
What made things initially challenging was the speed at which it was spreading, and how quickly strategies and decision making was occurring as it related to how we were to manage our Parks and Trails. What became increasingly clear from the outset was the interpretation of the direction from our senior public officials was being interpreted differently and inconsistently across the country. It started with playgrounds and the hope was to see physical distancing being practiced in each community. For many reasons this did not work as adults and children continued to use the playgrounds and park amenities in their usual manner. The same result was seen on trails where physical distancing was not working and parking lots, playgrounds, benches, beaches and various park amenities were being heavily used. This became especially apparent when the weather began to warm up and people needed to get out for some respite from being asked to stay inside.
These actions necessitated more drastic measure be taken in the form of closing off playgrounds, parks amenities, beaches and in some cases Parks and Trails. Unfortunately, these closures were not done on a consistent basis and became a sore spot with communities who desperately needed to escape from their safe place and get out for some fresh air and healthy exercise. Standing in line for food shopping and following the in-store arrows was hard enough but not being able to get out for a walk in the park, or a sit down on a bench was a harder pill to swallow. Not to mention what to do with the children who were now not going to school and in much need of letting off steam.
I must commend our leaders across the country who, on a daily basis, after much consultation and strategizing with public health officials, were trying to make the best decisions they could to flatten the curve and beat this virus. That task, however, was proving to be harder than expected. As a result a more aggressive approach was required, mostly because of the behaviour of many citizens of all ages who just didn’t get the physical distancing message.
We were now faced with park closures, trail closures, playground closures, washroom closures, and even restrictions on how many people could come together at one time which eventually ended up being restricted to family members living in the same house. Failure to comply resulted in fines ranging from 750 dollars to 10 thousand dollars depending on the situation. Yes, because of human behaviour desperate times had called for desperate measures. These decisions did not sit well with many citizens who needed their daily dose of fresh air, and physical activity. Walking around the block was just not doing it for them, not to mention the children.
The fact is these actions had a positive impact of flattening the curve and getting the community spread under control. As I write this article Dr. Tam is advising us to stay the course as we come down the good side of the curve so that we reduce the impact of a second wave. Premier Ford has just announced that in the coming days there will be good news for garden centres, and yet at the same time we have the Cherry Blossom tour in High Park in Toronto closed off to the public.
As I keep in regular contact with our Municipal Parks and Trails professionals, and as I monitor our Ontario Parks Association daily live information Forum, it is abundantly clear that we need to greatly enhance our ability to share policies and procedures with our sector, whether they are from a small rural community or a booming metropolis. Large or small the expectation of our park patrons is the same wherever you go. So, as our Parks and Trails professionals tweak their signage, limit their seasonal call backs, reduce the number of student hires, scramble access online training, they will still be able to deliver enough services to protect the assets from excessive deterioration at this time. This includes our trees, flower beds, sport fields, community gardens, beaches and naturalized areas because to abandon them entirely would result in very costly rebuilding and in some cases complete loss of the asset due to erosion, invasive infestations or out of control growth.
At this time a very careful balance must be achieved whereby our parks professionals must maintain and preserve the green infrastructure assets and amenities, albeit to a minimum, while still allowing for our citizens to be able to find creative ways to get out and get their much needed nature and healthy activity fix. This is where we may see changes in what could become the new normal in parks, trails and outdoor recreation.
The following bullet points represent areas of current discussion in the Parks and Trail sector which have been impacted by the Covid 19 experience.
- As an alternative to full closure of parks and trail amenities there needs to be a more wholesome discussion about the obvious physical and mental health benefits of controlled and monitored outdoor activity in order to reduce stress, violence and less pressure on police and healthcare resources.
- Adjustments to Park and Trail design to accommodate more efficient distancing goals such as wider trails, one-way paths or trails with an alternative one-way loop or return.
- LED or manual Park gateway and Trailhead signs or information boards highlighting physical distancing and social grouping protocols.
- Live Webcam in hot spots or areas of concern where allowed, in order to monitor non-compliance.
- Greater use of Parks and Trail apps where distancing and park and trail etiquette is clearly articulated.
- Pre-set park and or trail capacities to avoid over-crowding combined with on-site monitoring in high use areas.
- Establish Parks and Trails Ambassadors to have a presence in high density areas. Could be a student or volunteer program depending on the community.
- Handwash or sanitizing stations on sites of high touch surfaces such as playgrounds and exercise equipment.
- Educational information on Parks and Trail safe use policies as part of the school curriculum.
- In park or on trail prompts or makers to simplify or remind users to practice distancing.
- Proactive education and media communication vs issuing tickets unless in extreme non-compliance.
- Smaller or single seat benches.
- More emphasis on online training models where the bulk of training can be done online and then backed up with practical demonstrated ability.
- Crew sizes including transportation in vehicles may be restricted going forward to continue physical distancing compliance.
These are some of the potential changes or enhancements we may expect in the delivery of our Parks, Trail and Outdoor Recreation services, and I expect there will be more to come.
Something that will have a significant impact on future events like this pandemic is how we position our Parks, Trails and Outdoor Recreation amenities within our Strategic Plans. A solid argument can be made if we incorporate organizations like Eco Health Ontario, Green Infrastructure Ontario, and other like organizations across the country to provide the science-based data on the value of our living green infrastructure to the physical and mental health and well-being of our citizens. I firmly believe that there is more than enough data available to make the argument that our Parks and Trails are essential services, and in order to safely negotiate these challenges provided they are properly managed and monitored.
In closing I would like to thank all the Parks, Trails and Outdoor Recreation professionals out there who keep our connection to physical and mental health a positive one. In addition I commend the political leadership at all levels for doing their best under adverse conditions, and I appeal to them to take an in depth look at the Biophilic connection we have with nature and how maintaining access to these spaces, when properly managed, are part of the solution and not part of the family.
Congratulations to Canadian Nursery and Landscape Association who have joined forces with the National Communities in Bloom organization in providing leadership and the facilitation of the cultural and horticultural beautification of bringing Canadian Communities Alive.
Be kind and stay safe.
Ontario Parks Association