Park People started in 2011 with the question:
“How can we all play a role in making our parks better serve people and neighbourhoods?”
Park People’s Executive Director and Founder Dave Harvey secured a Metcalf Foundation Innovation Fellowship to explore this very question. The resulting paper, Fertile Ground for New Thinking, identified the challenges and opportunities Toronto faced in making its parks meet the needs of all communities.
Park People has hit upon a working method of do-it-yourself activism: engaged volunteers seeking permission to do things on their own. This approach of co-operating with bureaucracy to get results could serve as a model for the future of advocacy in Toronto.” Globe and Mail, 2013
Park People’s first five years were dedicated to connecting and supporting Toronto’s robust network of community park groups, park professionals, non-profit groups and funders. Toronto’s Park Friends Network continues to thrive, and is an ongoing program of Park People.
As we continued to grow, cities across Canada continually expressed their need for an organization and network to support their work in parks. Park People launched its National Network at its first National Conference in Calgary in 2017.
Since its kick-off, the Park People Network has expanded to over 800 groups across 46 Canadian cities, in every Canadian province. Today, Park People is a fully national organization with offices in multiple cities including Vancouver and Montreal.
Since our founding, Park People has helped community park groups undertake more than 3,000 events, attended by 275,000 people and supported by 23,000 volunteers.
Thanks to our generous donors, we have directed investments of more than $6 million in parks and park programming. And we engage with 25,000 park enthusiasts in conversations about how we can work together to mobilize the power of parks.