Recreation and Parks Month

Ten Ways that Parks, Forestry and Recreation Improves Quality of Life

In Toronto, we enjoy a quality of life envied around the world.  But did you know that many studies show that parks, trees and access to recreation contribute to improved quality of life? Some reasons are more obvious than others but here are ten ways you may not have thought about how Parks, Forestry and Recreation contributes to quality of life in Toronto.

Mental health

woman reading book on the grassy bank of a tree lined pond

The physical benefits of the environment and being active are obvious, however participation in recreation activities can also drive a sense of purpose and belonging to a community and provide opportunities for skill development, socialization and leadership.  Furthermore, access to nature has been shown to restore mental fatigue and improves cognitive function, learning and memory.

Economic value

A canoe exploring one of the many inlets of Tommy Thompson Park from the inner harbour. Many trees at the shorline are filled with nesting bird with the downtown waterfront as a backdrop.

High Park, Rouge Park, Kew Gardens...  Who doesn’t want to live next to a park? Studies show that parks and green space can increase private property values and attract businesses. Parks, Forestry and Recreation also offers employment opportunities. Some people have their first work experiences at Toronto's recreation centres, while others develop specialized skills in their professions.

Reduction in health care costs

Women enjoying an aquafit class

Toronto’s parks, urban forest and community recreation centres provide ‘preventative medicine’ at a low cost for all those who want to enjoy, which is particularly important given Toronto’s aging population.

Environmental benefits

trail through a mature forest

Toronto’s parks and trees provide valuable environmental benefits. From street trees to natural areas, local parks to City golf courses, they help improve air quality, protect city infrastructure from severe weather and provide habitat for wildlife. Studies, including our own Every Tree Counts, show the value of healthy parks and forests for a city.

Stress reduction

person sitting and painting the landscape in city park

Stress is a huge factor in our modern and connected lives and it’s not healthy. Research shows that recreation, parks and nature are calming. Being in a park, doing a yoga class and exploring on a trail helps to release endorphins that in turn reduce everyday pressures.

Low-cost or free entertainment

many people enjoying an outdoor swimming pool with waterslide on a sunny day.

Torontonians have access to many free or low-cost services.  Local community recreation centres offer programming for all ages, including art and cooking classes, camps, sports programs and social activities. There’s even assistance for those with low incomes through the Welcome Policy, a fee subsidy for recreation programs. Feel like getting outside? Go for a hike or visit a beach. There’s so much opportunity in this city.

Social Cohesion

community volunteers helping to build a new playground in local park

Toronto’s parks, trails and community recreation centres create space for people to enjoy and come together for activity, relaxation, fun and escape which helps to connect communities.  A cohesive community creates a sense of belonging, combats exclusion and offers opportunities that support upward mobility.

Protection of the Environment

great blue heron in flight low across the water

Toronto has a lot of natural areas in its ravines, beaches and waterfront.  Environmentally Significant Areas (ESA's) are home to rare species and unusual landforms.  With a city growing in population and increased development, these natural havens are just as important to our plant and animal residents too!


sun streams through trees illuminating the rocky creek bed and stream beneath.

The Toronto Islands, Rouge Park, award winning Golf Courses, Allan Gardens. Need we say more? A healthy park system brings in tourists to explore our fantastic city.

Safe Places

young girl walking her dog through the park

Toronto is a safe city. Community recreation centres, public parks and recreation programs provide children with a safe refuge and a place to play, which are important in reducing at-risk behavior.

There are many more ways that Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation contributes to our quality of life.  To find out more read our Service Plans.