I remember my childhood so fondly. We lived near the Confederation Building in St. John’s Newfoundland…next to a field where, on the best of days, my friends and I would trample through the high grass, making pathways and “rooms” to play in. We’d throw down a blanket, have a picnic, spend the afternoon lying around reading, colouring, playing with dolls…that field was a magical place where imagination soared.
According to a recent survey, the majority of Canadians (95 per cent) agree that access to community green space is important to their quality of life, but three-quarters feel that their local green space could be better. TD made a goal to create an initiative to revitalize over 150 community green spaces across Canada in recognition of the country’s 150th year!
In August, I attended a Preview Picnic and wrote the post, Check out the Excitement at the Dartmouth North Community Centre…telling you all about the brand new outdoor library coming to Dartmouth North’s Public Library. Construction is well underway for a new green space that will gather the community and offer a place to relax and enjoy, learn, spend time with friends, picnic, dance and sing…to ESCAPE from the everyday stresses.
According to Karen Clarke-Whistler, Chief Environment Officer, TD Bank Group, “As the pace of life around us intensifies, Canadians value outdoor spaces in their communities where they can find common ground. We’re proud to continue addressing this need by rejuvenating public green spaces, and ensuring that they’re functional, modern and inclusive for generations to come.”
So, just how do Canadians plan to use these green spaces? As per the findings of the TD GreenSights , a report combining insights from experts in green space as well as survey results from a poll of 1500 Canadians, the green spaces are used as:
- Urban Escapes – By congregating and sharing space, people connect. “It’s a full sensory experience from the smells of trees and barbeques to the sounds of babbling water and chirping birds to the sights of children playing together and adults meditating among nature.” Community green spaces create a place to escape…to relax in your own, connect with nature or relax with family and friends, which are the top three reasons folks choose to use community green spaces.
- Meeting Places – Whether escaping to their community green space, going for a picnic or participating in outdoor fitness groups, Canadians are making a point to spend time in their local green space. TD’s research shows that six-in-ten Canadians (60 per cent) visit their community green space once a week or more.
- Choosing their Neighbourhoods – Canadians place a high priority on proximity to community green space when selecting a neighbourhood, ranking it the third-most important factor (at 18 per cent) after “proximity to good schools,” (23 per cent) and “easy access to public transit” (19 percent), and above “walkable neighbourhood,” (15 per cent), “nearby amenities” (14 per cent) and “safety/ low crime” (11 per cent).
- Kid’s Spaces – Six-in-ten Canadians (59 per cent) say their children spend less time outdoors than they did at their age. Adam Bienenstock, an award-winning designer of playgrounds, says there are scientific reasons for kids to be out in nature more: “Living in urban centres, it’s a question of what’s missing – and right now, what’s missing is a full sensory experience. What’s missing from many people’s health and immune systems is all of those positive microbes, all of those bacteria, all those microbiota that make up their immune system. And you don’t get that unless you touch a biodiverse environment before you’re eight years old. We’re missing that in our cities. We forgot that and didn’t design for it.”
- Green Spaces as “Living Rooms” – Nearly half (47 per cent) of millennials ranked “relaxing with friends and family” as the top reason they’re using green spaces. Millennials are driving the changes, but we’re seeing others change too. The park is just a place you want to be.
I’ve listed a few points from the TD GreenSights Report, but for full findings, click here.
Bottom line, GET OUT AND PLAY! On the cul-de-sac we live, there’s this little green grassed circle in the center of our street that is filled with toys and hockey gear and every kind of ball imaginable. Through the years, I’ve watched it fill with trucks and dolls, and come to life with picnics and dances. It’s just this wee little patch of grass that gathers the kids in as the perfect place to MEET and PLAY!
We need more time, more places…to meet and play.
It’s rather exciting what TD is doing…helping to create community green spaces for our enjoyment. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for the Dartmouth North Community Library as they create a space to enjoy…and find common ground.
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To learn more about the Halifax project, please visit: