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6 reasons you don’t want to miss Canada’s National City Parks Conference

Presented by Park People
in Parks and Recreation

You don’t want to miss Park People’s Heart of the City Conference in Montreal happening June 12-14, 2019. It’s a must-attend event for municipal leaders whose work intersects with parks. This includes park planners, parks and recreation staff, and departments who engage in community development through city parks.

The conference is the only national event that brings together all of the stakeholders who are invested in the future of city parks across Canada. Keynote sessions, hands-on workshops, and highly interactive tours will showcase the leading issues happening in city parks across Canada, all against the backdrop of Montreal, a city beloved worldwide for its innovative approach to green spaces.

Here’s why you need to be there.

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1. Municipal Leaders and Park Leaders Together

Municipal leaders socializing at Montreal Park People's Heart of the City Conference

There are events for municipal leaders and events for community leaders, but very rarely do those two universes join together. Because the Heart of the City Conference is a national conversation with parks at the core, the conference will connect municipal leaders with community groups, nonprofits, and funders. It’s a rare opportunity for 200 of the country’s leading park stakeholders to learn from one another, network, and build relationships that will shape the planning, partnerships, design, and programming of city parks long after the conference is over.

2. Reconciliation in Focus

Rena Soutar, Reconciliation Planner, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, keynote speaker for Park People's Heart of the City Conference in Montreal

The Vancouver Park Board is dedicated to strengthening relationships with Indigenous peoples. Rena Soutar, the first Reconciliation Planner at Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, is a keynote speaker at Heart of the City Conference and will bring the city’s Reconciliation efforts into focus. Soutar says: “We are now in a prime position to … demonstrate what a decolonization process within a Reconciliation framework can look like in a public institution.” Learn how Soutar is breaking new ground by applying Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission principles to Vancouver’s parks.

3. A Keynote Speaker who is a Rock Star and a Geography Professor

Jerome Dupras, rock star and geography professor, keynote speaker for Park People's Heart of the City Conference in Montreal

Jerome Dupras is both bassist for the band Les Cowboys Fringants and an academic focused on quantifying the economic value of nature and biodiversity. A musician who returned to academia after finding fame on stage, for Dupras, these two worlds blend seamlessly together. In fact, his band started a foundation, with funds from ticket and album sales directed toward grassroots environmental initiatives.

Dupras’ research undercuts the idea that economic and environmental interests need to be in opposition. In fact, for Dupras, they go hand-in-hand. His open-source model for qualifying nature’s value has been used by numerous groups, both citizen and municipal led.

His scientific work was recently recognized by the Government of Quebec when he received the Quebec Emerging Science Award. He continues to be involved in several conservation and greening projects, including being Co-Founder of the Green Belt Movement and spearheading the planting of 375,000 trees for the 375th anniversary of Montreal.

4. Networking Against the Backdrop of World-Class Parks

Montreal park looking onto City of Montreal, Heart of the City Conference

Start your Heart of the City Conference with a private tour of Montreal’s beloved mountain, Mont Royal, with Les Amis de la Montagne. We’ll converge on the mountain’s Beaver Lake Pavilion and take in a view of this grand city and park that welcomes five million users annually.

Enjoy lunch at TOHU, home to North America’s first circular performance space dedicated to the circus arts. Tour the space and Frédéric-Back Park, a former quarry and dump now being transformed into a dynamic urban park that will be Montréal’s second-biggest green space. The project has been called the “most ambitious environmental rehabilitation project ever undertaken.”

Another reception and tour will take place in La Fontaine Park, highlighting how local communities were meaningfully engaged in the development of the park’s most recent master plan.

5. Targeted Workshops

Group of professionals brainstorming over lunch, Heart of the City Conference

Interactive workshop sessions, led by experts from across Canada, will address the most pressing issues in city parks. Participate in workshops featuring creative governance models, tools for evaluating park use and impact, and how parks can be built to address the climate change. You’ll work with experts from organizations across the country, including Calgary Parks, the City of Winnipeg, the Vancouver Park Board, Gehl Institute, and many more. Community park groups from across Canada include Stanley Park Ecology Society, Quartier des spectacles, Spence Neighbourhood Association, MABELLEarts, and many more.

6. Tour the City with the “Heart of Green”

The City with the Heart of Green, Park People's Heart of the City Conference in Montreal

Park tours are an important focus of the Heart of the City Conference, as Montreal is widely recognized as a city with a “heart of green.” Tours will span projects of all scales, from small community-led initiatives to large scale iconic parks.

For example, a tour of Grand Potager will focus on how the unique partnership between the municipality and a non-profit organization has led to the creation of an urban agriculture resource centre housed within municipal-owned greenhouses.

You can tour Circuit Jardins, a series of gardens around Montreal’s downtown core that have transformed underused and vacant lots into re-naturalized places for people. These gardens are equal parts green infrastructure and social infrastructure, providing places for some of Montreal’s most marginalized residents.

Choose from more than 10 tours over two days.

Don’t miss this must-attend event for municipal leaders
Register Now  MW

Municipal World Insider and Executive Members: You might also be interested in Paula Lombardi’s article: Why urban areas continue to need parks. Note that you can now access the complete collection of past articles (and more) from your membership dashboard.


Heart of the City Conference is hosted by Park People, the organization that supports and mobilizes people to help them activate the power of parks to improve quality of life in cities across Canada.

The conference is generously supported by TD Bank Group through its corporate citizenship platform, The Ready Commitment. Through this platform, TD is helping to open doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow so that people feel more confident – not just about their finances, but also in their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. As part of this, TD is committed to helping elevate the quality of the environment so that people and economies can thrive, by growing and enhancing green spaces and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy. To learn more about The Ready Commitment visit https://www.td.com/corporate-responsibility/ready-commitment/vibrant-planet.jsp.

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