Recreation infrastructure significantly contributes to an improved quality of life. Often, this is not considered in the rush to build new housing. The movement towards 15-minute cities (a planning concept focused on providing amenities within a 15-minute walk or cycle of where people live) is a promising approach that would increase accessibility to recreation opportunities. The ageing stock of existing recreation infrastructure and the need for new recreation and parks infrastructure across the country remains a significant concern, particularly as we build new housing to accommodate the increasing population.

The pandemic and housing crisis provided the impetus for governments to reconsider urban design to allow for more outdoor spaces and to consider how to incorporate active modes of commuting. Many models have been proposed to promote higher density, reduce travel, or promote alternative modes of transportation designed to increase land use, reduce health impact, reduce noise and air pollution, and increase social connections and physical activity. Environmental considerations are important, particularly as the population grows. Urban development must keep pace. This includes significant investments in renovating and retrofitting facilities and developing innovative approaches to transportation including public transit and active transportation routes (see www.measuring-impact.ca).

The infrastructure discussion must include parks, trails, community green spaces, and walking and cycling routes. According to the US National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), “Because of the pandemic, public parks have become more important to people and more essential to our health and wellbeing than perhaps at any time before this pernicious disease threatened our health and freedoms. This pandemic … has shown us how important parks are to everyone. Parks are not just ‘nice to have,’ they are ‘must have.’ They are critical infrastructure and vital to the public.”

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