The warm weather is here, bringing with it the visual signs of new beginnings and a fresh start to active life outdoors again. With no more pandemic lockdowns in place, plans of discovery and exploration of community life near and far are on the minds of many.
Thoughts of global vacation travel, however, are mixed, given international economic sanctions, rapidly rising COVID counts, and the crisis in Ukraine. I cannot imagine what Ukrainians are going through as communities have disappeared overnight, and what the future will hold for those who have fled.
It is a time of reflection, and gratitude for our peaceful world right here in Ontario, where we have never found our parks and open spaces more important to explore than right now for people’s mental wellness.
After a long winter, I recently had the chance to travel to, and explore Prince Edward County, one of Ontario’s gem regions. Businesses and wineries there are opening up to rebuild traveller confidence. Outdoor spaces are emerging, or have been expanded, with the safety of tourists top of mind. Three days of exploring this perfect blend of landscapes, heritage resources, and rural charm, was exactly the remedy needed for recharging and starting to enjoy our beautiful outdoor spaces again.
Exploring more of Ontario is also on the provincial government’s agenda. In March, the Ontario government announced the Staycation Tax Credit to help boost the local tourism industry. This tax credit will help residents get back up to 20 per cent of eligible accommodation expenses they spend on leisure stays, this year.
With the provincial election now only a month away, Ontarians are focused on jobs, their health, migration, and housing. Perhaps the new era for landscape architects is one of resilience, where we need to further explore conversations and ideas about how to create more communities across the province that are safe and beautiful, and easily accessible, and offer Ontarians so many more places to explore.
Steve Barnhart, OALA, CSLA