Most people need regular, easy access to green spaces and to natural spaces. In some ways St. John’s is already doing well on this front, with spaces like Signal Hill, the Grand Concourse, Bowring Park, and the East Coast Trail offering many residents convenient access to nature.
But there is still lots of work to do. We don’t even have an inventory of public green spaces at the moment.
Every neighbourhood should contain rich, well-cared-for green space. Quality is as important as quantity: successful green spaces and parks feature high-quality landscape design, ecological health, and biodiversity. An unsuccessful or unused park can actually be a liability to a neighbourhood. [See also: Trees.]
Local access to green space is particularly important to people for whom leaving the neighbourhood is an obstacle. That includes families with young children, people with disabilities, and seniors. [See Accessibility]
In addition to green space, everyone should also have meaningful access to natural spaces. Manicured green spaces are nice, but they aren’t a substitute for nature. Parks Canada is successfully making their natural and historical attractions more accessible, the City of St. John’s can follow their lead for best practices and design standards.
Healthy wetlands and watersheds like the lower part of Rennie’s River can add a lot to their neighbourhoods. They form beautiful walking trails and access to nature. They are also a great teaching ground, somewhere where children can learn about the environment and the natural world. [See also: Wetlands and Watersheds.]
Natural play spaces are especially valuable for children and families. In addition to playgrounds, all children should have the choice to collect bugs, find worms, and make mud pies. Natural play spaces are also cheap and save the City money, especially in new developments.