From Gravel to Green

by koalabear on November 25, 2016 - 10:04pm

For decades our society has been constantly urbanizing, turning untouched land into skyscrapers and sub-divisions.  We are constantly attached to technology and glued to what’s going to happen next on social media. What if everyone took a step back and remembered what used to make most of us so happy when we were younger? Playing outside!! After researching the effects of how being outside affects mental and physical health; it’s evident that going outdoors has many positive benefits

I chose the article “'Goodbye gravel, hello green': city planners hope to convert parking lots to green space.” This article discusses how Edmonton is hoping to transform 4 parking lots in the downtown core into a 1.25 –hectare park. The article then went on to explain how having such a large green space downtown would be very appealing for residents and create something unique in a bustling city. The park would create a venue for downtown festivals and gathering while also being dog friendly. This park would be quite interesting because it’s right in the middle of downtown surrounded by tall buildings, creating this sense of a little piece of happiness in the middle of madness. The article discusses how urban planners have been urging for this to happen for months since other large cities like Toronto have been trying to implement more parks in order to encourage people to get in touch with the outdoors.  Implementing more eco-diversity within urbanized areas has been proven to improve people’s mental health and overall level of happiness.  Studies have shown that people feel more energetic and alive when placed in an outdoors/nature setting.

This will also help to create more economic opportunities for the government in Edmonton as they can hold gatherings and events in this new space. Creating a space where people can feel included in a community is always good and people really appreciate being outdoors. With this sizeable green space there are many positive outcomes! Offering a green space that is both economic and environmentally friendly is a great addition to any city. It’s truly providing Edmonton with the best of both world.

Hopefully more major cities can lead by example and see how see how sometimes providing people with a more eco-friendly landscape can bring them wealth and happiness to their communities.

In my opinion this is extremely important in today’s society. We live day-to-day lives depending on our smartphones or computers to get us through the day. If everyone were to take a step outside and be able to appreciate the simple things then I believe it could have really great outcomes. By implementing this small park into downtown Edmonton, it can create an escape for people. Sometimes the next big project for a city doesn’t have to be a huge building or a new road…it can be a simple park to make people happy.

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Great post 'blackpanther' !

Reading your title immediately got me thinking about how humans need to consider going back and appreciate the natural services that nature provides for us. The message about natural parks that you focus on is so important as it relates to Canada. Provincial Parks are much more recognized and have more significance, however I enjoy the emphasis you put on local community parks. I admire nature for its' ability to bring happiness because I find happiness within nature every day.

It might be helpful to relate back to the Parks Canada initiatives that focus on trying to regain visitation to natural parks as new generations become more out of touch with nature. The point you make about nature's ability to heal, enhance mental state, improve physical health and more is very important for society today.

Humans convert land all of the time. It is refreshing to see humans transforming industrialized land back into a natural form. Do you believe man-made nature has the potential to become as important as original nature?


I am so excited about your blog post and thought it was very well written! I am from a rural area and my childhood was spent outside as often as possible. I have developed a strong appreciation for the environment, which has not only guided me toward studying Environmental Sciences but also drives my moral compass in regard to the day-to-day decisions I make.

Your perspective is so refreshing in that you explain the economic advantages to encouraging and accepting the environment. I think that this idea has grown within the last decade but it should continue to expand. Elementary schools for instance would greatly benefit from programs that encourage children to get in touch with the outdoors. As you mentioned, it has been proven to improve energy levels and overall levels of happiness.

Your post brings to light the notion that the environment is extremely valuable in areas other than just providing us with resources and green space in urban environments is just one of them!

Hi blackpanther,

I really enjoyed reading your post. Living in a city like Guelph with lots of green space helps to make you appreciate nature. I think it's so great that our campus is right next to the arboretum where students can go just to get a breath of fresh air, go for a run, or have a picnic with friends.

I think it's great that Edmonton is taking the initiative to rid the concrete and create more green space. As you mentioned, spending time outdoors - especially surrounded by nature - makes people feel better and can drastically improve moods. I imagine the park will be very popular and will likely be beautiful. It's such an interesting perspective to sit on the bright green grass under a tree while enjoying your 360-degree view of skyscrapers and office buildings.

Thank you for reminding us all of how important it is to sometimes take a step back and enjoy the scenery. In university we often forget to take the time to relax and treat ourselves even if it's just throwing a frisbee with a friend for an hour in a nice park!

Hi blackpanther!

I was really drawn in by the title of your piece! It's intriguing as it doesn't immediately touch on the issue like most other posts and leaves you curious for what exactly it means. I also think you picked a really unique topic to write about as it is not one of the major environmental issues that are regularly talked about. It is a topic that is smaller in scale but no less important! It is also different in that its an example of a solution to a major environmental issue rather than just more commentary about the problem which is extremely refreshing.

I agree with you that it is important for people, especially those living in big cities, to get in touch with nature. Not only does it connect citizens to the state but is also beneficial on a personal level as you discussed. I'm curious to know if you think this initiative is similar to that of Parks Canada, where they are trying to reconnect citizens to nature and connect immigrants to their new home. I personally think it is very important for society to have a personal connection with nature not only for a sense of solidarity with the state but also to feel the need to protect it from degradation. Overall, your post is very well written and I enjoyed reading it!

Great post! I really enjoyed reading it. I agree that this is really important. A lot of cities lack green spaces now and it actually makes it harder for people to go outside because they really don't have anywhere to go outside. This parking lot initiative is a great idea because it will provide a common shared space for all the locals.

My only concern with this would be that it might increase problems with parking just because 4 parking lots are being taken away. This generally tends to increase traffic because it decreases parking. But besides for that I think it is a great idea and will add value to the space. It's a form of giving back green space to the community and encouraging being outdoors.

Hi blackpanther,
I really enjoyed your article. I also wrote on the same topic but from a different article, so it was good to see a slightly different approach to the topic. I defintely agree that the park should be there especially since in the surrounding context, the area is quite grey and devoid of natural spaces - mainly filled with parking lots. It will provide recreational opportunities and can be ecologically beneficial. On the other hand, I have read that there is a concern for a lack of parking spaces, especially with the new Rogers Place that was built in the area that did not provide many parking spaces (there hope was to use adjacent parking areas). There was also concern from citizens, found in the facebook comments of my article, that commuters to the downtown area would have less places to park and public transit isn't exactly efficient in Edmonton to allow them to easily get downtown. What would your approach or solution be to address these other concerns against the park?

Thanks for sharing!

Great post!

Gravel to green is a really interesting concept that aims to not really improve mental health, but the environment too. I think this would also be a great opportunity to plant more trees as well. By adding more green areas in urban environments as well as planting more trees will help reduce environmental impacts. Planting trees is a way to help offset carbon emissions, and by having this done more in urban areas could also help people to beware of the important role trees play. Overall I think it is a great idea, however I also think it is important to have the green spaces strategically placed within urban areas, for example a place where it can be easily reached, but does not impose on other necessary city elements. In launching this concept in many different areas could also allow for people to become more invested in environment and the struggles it is facing due to urban expansion