Parks and recreational facilities in the Canadian context are critically important to health and wellbeing as they typically provide opportunities to connect with nature, pursue recreational activities, and facilitate social connections for the entire population. The ParkSeek project is an exciting new pan-Canadian initiative to gather and share information about the population health impacts of parks, protected areas, and recreational facilities.
The overarching goal of the ParkSeek project is to build a platform for Canadian-specific research and practice related to the interconnections between population health and parks and recreational facilities. These spaces and places are critical elements of the built and natural environment known to support health and wellbeing. Using these tools, changes can be observed in the built and natural environment features, population-level perceptions, and public use of parks and recreational facilities over time.
The project has three objectives:
- Quantify the geographic accessibility of parks and recreational facilities across Canada at multiple scales using novel spatial analysis techniques.
- Develop and test data collection tools in up to 12 communities to gather information about the quality of parks and recreational facilities.
- Document operational and strategic policies across Canada that affect access to, and user experiences in, parks and recreational facilities using a health equity lens.
Data generated from this project could be linked to other health and socioeconomic indicators to understand how parks and recreational facilities contribute to health behaviours and outcomes; thus, providing new tools, technologies, and approaches for public health action.