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Rethinking major urban public parks, between continuity and reinvention

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Regular session
11:00 AM, Friday 27 May 2022 (1 hour 30 minutes)
Lunch and Annual General Meeting of Members   12:30 PM to 03:30 PM (3 hours)

Major parks have been part of the urban identity of Canadian cities for more than 150 years. From Pleasure Grounds to reformist and recreational parks as well as exhibition parks, parks have assumed different built forms over time and have had a wide range of vocations and uses. In recent years, a number of international publications have reflected on parks from the point of view of history, cultural diversity, good practices in terms of design, management, innovation, creation processes, and more recently, reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. With the emergence of thinking on Landscape Ecology and Landscape Urbanism, understanding parks as a support tool in the fight against climate change and as an infrastructure of the contemporary city positions them at the heart of a renewal of their role and scope in the city. A number of authors have revealed the current challenges of major parks, among these the variety and changing of needs and clienteles, the increased number of major events held, ecological and cultural value, collective identity, the great diversity of landscapes, the decreasing financial capacity of cities to maintain them, accessibility, environmental justice, and infrastructure obsolescence. 

Parks are now an eclectic collection of layers of landscape set up and built during multiple eras. It is appropriate for both park doers and park thinkers to reflect on reconciling efforts at revealing and celebrating the historicity of parks and their components and applying updated transformation approaches in order to create parks that meet twenty-first century needs. How should the heritages they contain and represent be given due consideration while leaving space for the production of new contemporary forms? Is a cohabitation of functions, styles, and traces possible and desirable? How might we respond to elements of rupture and obsolescence while ensuring continuity of the identity of the place? What shapes must the parks of the future take? The session focuses on the manufacturing and reinvention of parks from a practical point of view as well as on a theoretical reflection concerning the meaning and aesthetic of parks. It aims to ensure the renewal of discourse regarding this defining figure of urban landscapes.

Sub Sessions

11:30 AM - 11:50 AM | 20 minutes

The importance of parks became starkly apparent as we pivoted to new ways of socializing, exercising, eating, and all aspects of living during the pandemic. We can learn a lot about park planning from formal and informal park innovations and usage during this crisis, as well as adaptations from previous moments of instability, such as wartime. Innovations that responded to these pandemic years can help us understand our planning challenges.This paper looks at the iconic Allan Garden...

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