How Local Parks Helped Urban Dwellers Survive the Pandemic

When everything closes down, where do you go to escape your small space?

Ellen Eastwood
5 min readJun 4, 2022


Picture of urban buildings and a green lawn with trees. The sky is blue with white clouds.
Downtown Toronto — About a block from where I live / Photo by author

I live in a high-rise condo complex in downtown Toronto. It doesn’t get more urban than that. I’d say “it’s buildings as far as the eye can see,” but the sad reality is you can’t see a lot out of my windows anymore.

I used to have a fantastic North-facing view that stretched for numerous blocks. But you know how cities are — real estate is always at a premium. If there’s an underused building or parking lot, it has to become…

More condos.

Living in a condo, I can hardly complain about the city getting more towers. Pre-COVID, there seemed to be justification for cramming them into every spare inch. I attended a Q&A with former Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat and she mentioned the city was preparing for 10s of thousands of people to move to the city center over the next decade — we were woefully underprepared.

Presumably, that’s the reason they destroyed the parking lot opposite me to put a building there. As of last year, there’s about 30 feet between me and my neighbors. I have officially lost my view completely.

Imagine the dark, early days of the pandemic. You’re locked at home, feeling isolated. All you hear from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm is the sound of hammering, drilling, and construction workers yelling at each other about how to move that steel beam.

There’s no place to go because of the virus. You just have to sit there with a mind-boggling amount of peace-destroying sound pollution and watch as day by day you come closer to losing your view.

I am generally a contented, even-keeled person. I rarely experience depression. But after months of this, I was undone.

On many days, my daily walks were the only bright spot. I never missed it unless the weather was absolutely horrible. Regardless of how busy I was with work, I found a way to get outside.

Pre-pandemic, I knew of two parks near-ish to me. There was a parkette at the end of my block (like a park, but smaller and cuter). Then there was the much larger Trinity Bellwoods Park, about a 45-minute walk away.



Ellen Eastwood

Culture and lifestyle writer | Generalist | Curious | Witty on a good day | Contact: