Parks and the pandemic: objects of resilience — for whom?

Credit : Robert Bye

1. The use of parks increased during the pandemic

In the fall of 2020, 601 participants of the INTERACT study living in the Montréal area responded to the question: “In the current context, do you use municipal parks more, less, or as much as before the COVID-19 pandemic?” Two out of five respondents said they used them more and one out of five said they use them less.

2. Women are proportionally more likely than men to use parks today

When looking at differences in use by gender, 45% of women report using parks more now than before the pandemic, compared to 35% of men. Based on several indicators, we know women have been predominantly affected by the pandemic. They have tended to be more exposed to the virus at work, have felt the repercussions of the pandemic on their careers more, and experienced greater stress at home, given the unequal distribution of family tasks and new responsibilities such as accompanying education at home. While the importance of green spaces for mental and physical health has long been known, research during the pandemic showed their use also became a means of escaping the four walls of one’s home to find contact, however distant, with others and to benefit from a safe environment for children. We therefore understand the importance of parks for women.

3. Parks are neglected by those aged 65 and over.

Figure 1: Park attendance during the second wave of COVID-19 in Montreal, compared to before the pandemic, by age group

4. People who use parks more live in more deprived areas than people who use parks less.

Figure 2: Neighbourhood social deprivation according to park attendance during COVID compared to before COVID, by age group. The lower the neighbourhood social deprivation score, the more advantaged the neighbourhood.
Crédit : Will Paterson



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CIHR-funded research team harnessing big data to deliver public health intelligence on the influence of urban form on health, well-being, and equity.