July 11 2012

What is the Purpose of a Park?: Mission Creek Regional Park, Kelowna, Canada

Mission Creek ParkSummer has arrived in Canada’s Okanagan valley, and with the warmer weather, people are venturing outside to enjoy the many parks in Kelowna. Among these is Mission Creek Regional Park and Greenway, arguably the most visited park in the city. It includes an educational centre, salmon spawning channel, picnic areas, and a playground. The greenway offers a lengthy trail system that traverses through several of Kelowna’s iconic landscapes.

But is its popularity with the public enough to make Mission Creek a good park?

Leading up to a conference here in Kelowna, the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada (ALECC) poses a question on the purpose of parks. Specifically, they ask about the practice of parcelling off bits and pieces of nature into protected reserves.

Parks serve three main purposes:

The first two are easy enough. Conservation is the act of guarding or protecting something against further losses, while recreation is any sort of activity that serves to entertain or amuse.

Mission Creek Greenway Phase 1 TrailsHowever, parks are also increasingly seen as icons, part of a local brand, if you will. New York has Central Park, London has Hyde Park, and Vancouver has Stanley Park. Other cities are known for their abundance of parks, with many branding themselves as garden cities. On a smaller scale, some developments choose to use iconic landscape design or integrated park space as a brand.

While not well known in the international realm, I would identify Kelowna’s Mission Creek Regional Park and Greenway as a city icon, and a beautiful example of both conservation and recreation as well. As mentioned before, the various hiking trails stitch together Kelowna’s unique landscape: beginning at the lakeshore, it moves through a lush forest alongside ancient salmon spawning grounds, and up into the rugged hills and canyons to end with Mission Creek Falls.

Do you agree that the basic purpose of a park is to conserve nature, provide recreation, and act as an icon? Does your city have a park that fits into (or doesn’t fit!) my definition?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Jordan Rockerbie

Jordan Rockerbie is a former The Grid blogger and a graduate of the University of British Columbia, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Studies with a minor in Geography. Originally from Victoria, BC, Canada, he has also made his home in Kelowna, BC, Canada; Banff, AB, Canada; and Singapore. He has a budding interest in urban planning and design, inspired by the vibrant cities he calls home and the natural landscapes that form their backdrop. His passions lie in architecture, parks, active transportation, and innovative redevelopment.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 at 2:53 pm and is filed under Environment, Land Use. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


One Response to “What is the Purpose of a Park?: Mission Creek Regional Park, Kelowna, Canada”

  1. Infrastructure Projects Big and Small Make Cycling Safer in Kelowna, Canada | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    [...] 300 kilometres of bike lanes, multi-use paths, and greenways. Infrastructure projects such as the Mission Creek Greenway and Rails with Trails corridor show Kelowna’s dedication to encouraging cycling as a viable [...]

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