Walking in a winter wonderland? an assessment of winter maintenance and physical activity features in Smythe Park, Toronto
thesisposted on 25.05.2021, 07:15 by Maria Bianchi
Objective. To determine how the features, conditions, and maintenance of a low-income park affect the use of the park for physical activity during the winter months. Method. Direct observation of park use; assessment of park quality based on a developed assessment tool; and supplementary surveys with park users. Results. The park lacked winter park features (e.g. ice rink, tobogganing hill) and supporting amenities (e.g. washrooms, rental facilities). There was evidence of winter maintenance, however, it was inconsistent: most trails were cleared of snow on all visits, but large ice patches were present and had not been cleared. The park was used primarily for walking and dog walking, although respondents noted that the lack of maintenance in the park affected if they used it for physical activity. Conclusion. Winter maintenance of parks and the presence of winter features affect park use, with snow removal, ice removal, and the presence of bathrooms having a strong influence on physical activity levels in the winter months. Park planners should consider year-round maintenance and programming in order to promote engagement in physical activity during all seasons.