Exploring park crowding across a metropolitan region using a GIS-based observational methodology: The case of six Greater Montreal parks


  • Victoria Jepson Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Centre Urbanisation Culture Société
  • Thi-Thanh-Hien Pham Département d’Études Urbaines et Touristiques, Université du Québec à Montréal
  • Philippe Apparicio Department of Applied Geomatics, Université de Sherbrooke


Park design, Park planning, Suburban parks, Urban parks, Systematic observation


Understanding how park configurations and equipment impact the ways people use parks can help create more appropriate park design in function of users’ needs. Research on parks in Canada tends to ignore how to empirically evaluate park crowding. In this paper, we put forward a GIS-based observational method to examine the notion of crowding in different types of parks. This methodological approach is applied to six Greater Montreal parks located in urban core and suburban neighborhoods that have different levels of accessibility. Our bivariate and visual analyses point to some determinants of park crowding, i.e., accessibility indicators (proximity and hectares per person), urban services near the parks (e.g., daycares), and park equipment. We show sports facilities attract all visitors, but a low presence of adolescents and seniors is observed in all parks. Urban core parks offer less passive activity infrastructure but have more diverse uses and crowding than suburban parks.