Community Involvement

2014 Parks User Survey

What You Told Us

Family seated on park bench near the lake looking out at Toronto skyline

Between August 7 and September 30, 2014 Parks, Forestry and Recreation hosted an online public survey on park use in the City of Toronto. Public participation was very high, with 2,257 valid respondents recorded. This feedback is helping us better understand how people use our parks and it's shaping the way we think about, plan for and manage this city's parks.

Here is a summary of what we found:

  • 99% of survey respondents reported that they use City parks
  • 83.5% of respondents provided valid City of Toronto residential postal codes
  • 45% of respondents were ages 25 – 44, 40% were ages 45 – 64, and 11% were 65+
  • Quantitative data was generated through 15 questions with pre-set response options
  • Qualitative data was generated through 7 questions with open-ended comment fields. A total of 3,555 written comments were received

Here are some background details on the survey:

  • The 2014 Park Users Survey questionnaire was created as an online survey using the Fluid Surveys online survey application
  • The sampling method was self-selection in the online survey
  • Public awareness of the survey was promoted through the City of Toronto's web site, social media and email notices. The target population for the 2014 Park Users Survey was all residents living in the City of Toronto
  • The resulting sample was compared to the population on age and location and found to be appropriately representative
  • The 95 percent confidence interval for the 2014 Park Users Survey is +/- 2 percent, 19 times out of 20
  • The data as shown below is unweighted

ExpandQuantitative Data Findings

*Note that for many of the questions below, individuals were able to submit multiple responses.


Parks are important to my quality of life.


(2,010 responses)

89.8% Strongly agree
4.5% Strongly disagree 
4.3% Somewhat agree
0.7% Neither agree nor disagree
0.4% Somewhat disagree
0.3% Unsure or n/a  

When do you visit parks?


(7,733 responses)

22.2% Afternoon – weekends
18.8% Evening – weekdays
17.7% Morning – weekends    
14.7% Evening – weekends
13.8% Afternoon – weekdays    
12.8% Morning – weekdays     

How often do you  visit parks?


(2,224 responses)

26.3% Every day
24.7% 4 or more times/week
28% 2 – 4 times/week
9.8% Once a week
8.5% A couple of times a month
2.5% Less than once a month
0.2% Less than once a year 

Why do you visit parks?


(11,184 responses)

14.9% Walk or hike
14.1% Enjoy nature
9.2% Unstructured activity
8.8% Meet friends
8.7% Passing through
7.8% Cycling
7.2% Picnic
6.7% Special event
6.6% Walk the dog
6% Playground/ splash pad / wading pool
5.2% Organized activity
3.5% Other reason
1.3% Volunteer 

I enjoy my park visits.


(2,101 responses)

72.6% Strongly agree
21.2% Somewhat agree
2.7% Strongly disagree
1.6% Neither agree nor disagree
1.6% Somewhat disagree
0.3% Unsure or N/A

What are the best features of your local park?


(9,285 responses)

16% Trees
14.6% Naturalized areas
11.2% Walkways
9.2% Trails
6.9% Bicycle paths
6.5% Play structures
6.5% Flower beds
6.2% Dogs off-leash areas
5.2% Waterfront area
5% Sports fields
5% Water play areas
4.7% Other
3% Beach area

How could your park visits be improved?


(7,236 responses)

12.8% More/better washrooms
10.1% More benches
9.1% Other improvements
7.1% Better Maintenance
6.8% Control of off-leash dogs
6.4% More flower gardens
5.9% Space for more litter bins
5.4% More recycling bins
5.1% More shade
4.2% Improved play structures
4% More bike racks
4% Better design and planning
3.6% More bike paths
3.6% Improved water play area
3% Better signage
2.7% Better park safety
2.5% Improved physical accessibility
2% More concessions
1.7% More parking

How did you learn about this park?


(2,765 responses)

63.8% Live close to the park
12.4 % Friends or family
10.2 % Attended scheduled games or activities
6.6% Other method
2% City parks website
1.7% Other media source
1.7% Newspaper or magazine
1.6% Read about in the Fun Guide

Are you interested in learning more about city parks?


(2,091 responses)

69% Yes
31% No

What is the best way to receive park information?


(4,105 responses)


26.3% Email
22.7% E-newsletter
20.3% Website content
16.9% Social media
13.8% Newspaper article

ExpandQualitative Data and Comments

We received 3,555 comments through 7 open ended questions.  We coded or grouped these comments into 13 categories representing the broad range of key themes and subjects expressed.  

Here's a small sample of what we heard from you in the 5 most discussed categories.

Pie chart displaying comment categories and percentage of respondents. The top 5 most discussed categories are outlined below.

Maintenance & Improvement (30%)

We received the most comments in this category, including a range of compliments on and suggestions for park and maintenance and improvements.

Staff worker with ladder repairing netting"My experience is that they are very busy and well used. We need to ensure these assets are able to meet everyone's needs as the population grows and number of condo dwellers grow too."

"I really appreciate the greenspace that the city does provide for the people living in it. The maintenance is just wonderful it brings a feel of peace and serenity not to mention the wildlife that lives in it as well. It's a great source for fresh air from the trees."

"The newly upgraded playground structures are wonderful. I appreciate that there are different structures for different age levels."

Female gardener with flowers"Toronto has a great system if parks. I would love to see my little park receive the TLC that it needs."

"In Toronto I can walk by creeks, rivers and in forests for free and feel that I am no longer in the city. Please ensure that we never lose these great assets. You are doing a great job. Thank you."

"I would gladly pay higher taxes for improved maintenance and amenities in Toronto's parks. I would love to see winter maintenance on bike lanes. I bike through Toronto's parks daily."

Activities in Parks (15%)

These comments focussed on the various activities that people engage in within Toronto's parks.

Four people jogging through the ravine"I love city parks. They are essential to city living. I am an allotment plot gardener and love the community garden. I attend the High Park Shakespeare in the Park every year. I walk, bike and hang out in the parks all year. I attend farmer's markets in multiple parks regularly. I swim every day at the outdoor pools when they are open… Parks are extremely important to the vitality of the city. It is a place for people to come together, and enjoy the outdoors.

”My children love the park; we've been visiting parks, going on hikes since our oldest was born. Still do."

"Every Sunday in the good weather (usually April to November) I use the parks and the bike paths to cycle from the centre of the city for some 80 km. Toronto has an excellent system of bike paths. Could always use more."

"I go to access the lake for scuba diving."

Group of cyclists"I am retired, and have the luxury of using a nearby forest and park for walking, meeting others, and photography. I use all of the parks around me, which are many and vast. I also visit other parks in the city regularly."

"I play sports, i.e. baseball and bocce."

Nature and Well Being (12%)

Comments in this category spanned a range of topics related to the role of nature/parks in Toronto their impact on resident well being.

Great Blue Heron flying"We need to preserve green space where people can re-connect with nature. It`s perhaps the finest thing about Toronto that we have green spaces where we can do that."

"We need to recognise that passive naturalised parks are necessary in this huge urban complex and that they should be left free of activities and structures."

Panoramic view of Scarborough Bluffs"Being from a smaller town, it is so important to have these spaces that make you feel close to nature and to forget the stress and bustle of city life. The green spaces are my sanctuary and way of staying stress free."

"We all need some nature to help us neutralize the city energy. They are imperative to this beautiful city staying beautiful."

"It's nicer to walk through a park than along a city street. If I have an option, I'll walk through the park. So much more calming."

"Parks are a slice of nature in the concrete jungle. Love them!"

Dogs (10%)

Comments in this category referred to all things related to dogs.

Teenaged girl walking her dog"I am a dog owner and use High Park regularly, and am one of those that picks-up their dog's droppings always. I wish that all dog owners were responsible and if not, then they should all be fined."

"Although we do not have a dog, we enjoy meeting the dogs as the walk with their owners on the leash free paths."

"I have a dog. The wonderful people I've met over the years in our dog parks and parks in general, has really given me a sense of community."

"I love the off leash parks available and use them religiously, but it saddens me that so many dog owners just let their dogs run off leash anytime anywhere - and naturally others lump the responsible dog owners in the same group."

"I appreciate the efforts put forth to make parks more dog friendly. Pets are a huge part of our communities and it's been wonderful to see what the city parks department has done."

"There are too many off-leash dogs in areas where they are prohibited. Dogs have charged my toddler several times. I know people love their dogs but there are many dog parks available and I feel the rule should be enforced for safety reasons."

Communication and Education (7%)

These comments focussed on existing/recommended communication and education about parks.

"I would love to see electronic maps for parks online. Often I don't know where the trails, parking etc. are."

Man looking at the Discovery Walk sign board"Text message events at a park of choice."

"Off leash dogs are a problem throughout the city in parks. More education and enforcement should be introduced. Dog owners don't seem to understand that some people are not just fearful of dogs but have allergies to dogs. Perhaps more education could help with addressing this issue."

"It is great to see how the city takes care of the parks. Unfortunately, the people who use the park do not care about keeping it clean and usable by other members of the public. It would be beneficial for the city to start promoting the public to keep it clean."

"I don't really need to receive info about parks. Perhaps better signage in parks could tell more about the habitat, and what you are doing to protect it."

"More maps and/or signposts would be helpful. I have helped lost tourists on a few occasions."