Having grown up with a cottage in Kawartha Lakes, my family and I have passed Balsam Lake Provincial Park countless times. From observing and interacting with wildlife, swimming in the freshwater lakes, and pit stops for the occasional fresh strawberries and corn on the cob, my life has been filled with the advantages that our parks provide; advantages that I'm reminded of each day.
This Saturday, July 19 is Canada’s Parks Day, a nationwide annual celebration showcasing the personal, social, and societal benefits of Canada’s parks and historic places.
This is a day I’m reminded that so many of us along with diverse wildlife would be at a great disadvantage without these parks, recognizing the role they play in climate change, agriculture, activity, and health and well-being.
Now living in Toronto, I am reminded of this, and relish my visits to parks that, though sadly sometimes few and far between, only enrich my life further.
According to Canadian Parks Council, contact with nature has been found to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, help mitigate disease, and reduce stress levels. I rarely pass up a chance to jog through the tree-covered roads during the summer, reassured of the oxygen our trees provide and the wildlife habitats that surround us.
Ontario’s Greenbelt has an abundance of these advantages. Rouge Park in northeastern Toronto was very recently categorized as a national park, making it the largest urban park in North America. Protection for approximately 1,700 species of plants and animals, some of which are rare or endangered, is just one example of the importance of celebrating Canada’s rural and urban parks. It is also about bringing people and families together, and strengthening the communities that nature builds.
At eight years old, I recall my father allowing me to fish—only if I promised to return them to their home. As generations of my family grow, I observe the memories that only nature can provide. And when the buildings of the bustling city seem to take over, Canada’s parks are the biggest, most beautiful backyard.
-- Communications Assistant