Parks are synonymous with so many things — usually fun, fitness and activities for all ages.
While residents use Delta’s many parks and recreational facilities on a daily basis, they likely don’t think about the city’s operating budget or parks maintenance or how the community might compare to cities across the country with trends, challenges and opportunities.
That’s why Jake Tobin Garrett, policy and planning manager for Park People, says his non-profit organization decided to do The Canadian City Parks Report.
“We’ve been doing research into different aspects of parks for five years now and it’s hard to find information — best practices, what are Canadian cities doing with their parks, etc.,” Tobin said.
“We knew there was a lot of growth and a lot of exciting things happening, but there was no central report, no venue, no real information sharing – nowhere to find that information.”
The non-profit organization invited 60 cities of all sizes to participate in its inaugural parks report, and Tobin was happy that 23 of those responded, including Delta.
“We thought maybe 10 cities would respond,” he said.
Overall, Delta does well with its parks and that shows in the report, Tobin said.
“I think Delta is doing really well with engaging with volunteers in its parks — with its percentage of volunteers [compared to population], Delta comes up third,” he noted.
Delta had one of the only Adopt-A-Rain-Garden programs, Tobin said, an initiative started in 2006 with the local streamkeepers and Delta engineers working to design, install and maintain rain gardens in Delta’s elementary schools.
“Community members can ‘adopt’ a rain garden and help maintain green infrastructure that helps mitigate any effects of climate change,” Tobin said.
The report also highlighted a few other Delta programs, including the city’s Birds and Biodiversity Conservation Strategy, Delta’s Invasive Species Management Strategy, the city’s community grant program and its Social Action Plan.
Ken Kuntz, Delta’s director of parks, recreation and culture, said the report is a good start.
“Before this report, there was a huge absence of comparators, especially in regards to Canadian cities of about the same size,” Kuntz said.
“We’ve always had our neighbours to the south but it’s great to have that data on the Canadian side of things.”
Kuntz gave kudos to the Cougar Creek Streamkeepers as well as the many other community organizations and residents of all ages who volunteer to help keep Delta’s parks beautiful.
“Our volunteerism is spectacular – they really take ownership of the projects they commit to,” Kuntz said.
He noted the city council’s unanimous decision earlier this year to give free admission to 10-to-18-year-old Delta residents at all of Delta’s recreational facilities, as well as the fact that Delta’s tree canopy/tree cover is growing, not shrinking.
Because of its geographic location and size, Delta is a relatively non-growth city, Kuntz said, and doesn’t face some of the growth-related challenges that other cities might.
“Our studies are really more about how do we make better use of what we have,” he said.
“But it’s a great start, a good compilation of good news stories about what cities across Canada are doing with their parks, including Delta.”
The full Canadian City Parks Report can be found at cityparksreport.parkpeople.ca.