Types of Parks

Through our observations and feedback over the past three years it’s become clear that no two parks are the same and each park has its own personality. At the same time, we found that parks can be categorized into one of two groups: “Destination Parks” and “Community Parks”. Certain characteristics determine what type each park is, and it’s possible for a park to be both Community and Destination.    

Consider how a park is used to determine which it is, which may in turn influence how you approach your event in that space.

Destination Parks
Destination Parks can attract visitors from a long distance, most of whom don’t use the park on a regular basis and are probably visiting for a specific reason, such as a birthday celebration.  Destination Parks are typically larger in size, have proper facilities to accommodate visitors, and are often brought to life by fun activities such as kite flying or barbequing. It can be harder for artists to have deeper engagement with people at a Destination Park as they have often come to be together and are not as likely to seek out arts activities.

Community Parks
A Community Park is used predominantly by the surrounding community and has a “community footprint”, meaning the park is an extension of the everyday life for those who live around it. It is a place to walk the dog, a shortcut to somewhere else, part of a running route, and where kids go to play. It is a familiar place where people are likely to know or recognize each other, and interactions with the space are casual but more consistent.

Parks as Unwelcoming Spaces
It should be noted that parks are not always a positive space in communities. Due to the neglect of a park or damaging incidents, the space may be seen as a place to avoid. Some parks have been sites of trauma and violence or criminal activities. Some spaces are heavily policed and closed after dark. As well, some residents have preconceived notions as to how a park should be used and who belongs there, and may not like having arts events in the park; i.e. they might view parks as nature sanctuaries, not a place for concerts or puppet shows.

Community engagement and outreach and having a presence in the space prior to the event can help mitigate potential issues and build a culture of park use by the community. Good community engagement also creates opportunities for residents to contribute ideas and input on what kind of arts events and activities they want to see and may even inspire the community to produce their own programming. Our evaluations suggest that changing the culture of how a park is used by a community is a long-term project. Collaboration and partnership are key to creating welcoming and inclusive park culture.


“Our park has issues of no traffic due to past safety concerns. The program brought more traffic and people back to our park. We recently created a Parks group and it has opened a lot of much-needed community support in this area.”

- North York Community Organizer, 2017