State of Large Parks in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe

Jul 24, 2020   •   Climate Resilience , Research

In partnership with Green Infrastructure Ontario State of Large Parks in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe is the first regional-scale analysis of park supply in the Golden Horseshoe, with a focus on large parks. Parks are a key asset in our regional green infrastructure system. They provide important spaces for activities ranging from play and exercise to relaxation and restoration.

As the population living around the Greenbelt grows, pressures will increase on our existing park system. At the same time, there is also a focus on building denser communities in city development and re-development that does not include establishing new large parks.


Action must be taken to ensure residents across Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe will have continued access to large parks and the many benefits they offer.

Given the unique benefits of large parks, and the challenges associated with their differences, a regional assessment is necessary to evaluate the risks of an inadequate number of large parks for the growing population. The geographic scope of the report encompasses the region predominantly bound by the Greenbelt and Lake Ontario.

The report looks at two case studies as examples of large parks in Ontario: a Conservation Area and a municipal park.

Belfountain Conservation Area includes three properties that share significant ecological features: Belfountain Conservation Area proper, Willoughby Property (owned by the Ontario Heritage Trust and Cox Property. Beyond high visitor volumes over particular weekends, BCA is seeing an overall trend of increased use with staff occasionally have to indicate that the parking lot is full and re-direct people to other nearby parks.

Ajax Waterfront Park is six kilometers of parkland stretching across the Town of Ajax’s southern border along the shores of Lake Ontario. The park and trail already experience high use levels, especially in the summer, and increased usage is expected to continue due to the growing population. 

These case studies aim to illustrate large park capacity issues by focusing on two parks that are already nearing or at their recreational carrying capacity.

Read the full report: