A pocket of nature in the heart of the city, an event venue, a play place for families, a space for outdoor fitness and a hub of community connectivity – these are among the many ways our community uses Victoria Park. This cherished public space officially opened in 1896, making it the City of Kitchener’s oldest park, and it continues to be a community favourite. Over the last century, the park has continued to evolve with the city. As our community has grown and diversified, the park space and its use has adapted to meet the many needs of our residents and visitors.

The City of Kitchener is beginning the process of updating the Victoria Park Master Plan, which will help guide the vision and priorities for the park for the next 10 years. It will be the framework for maintenance, improvements and stewardship of the park space, including   priorities for capital projects within the park. As with any community space, the master plan will reflect the ways the park is being used right now, as well as the ways we anticipate it will be used in the future as our community continues to grow.

“As we develop the new master plan, some of the main things we want to focus on are a data-driven approach and ensuring the park remains an equitable space that everyone feels welcome in,” said Karen Leasa, Project Manager for the Victoria Park Master Plan project. “Through this project, it’s important for us to accurately capture how the space is being used in order to generate effective and thoughtful recommendations moving forward.”

With that goal in mind, the City will be using an innovative technology-based solution provided by Ramudden Digital that will capture park usage data continuously and objectively. Beginning mid-June, sensors will be installed throughout Victoria Park to collect data at major entrances into park space and at frequently used amenity or communal spaces. Selected through a public procurement process, these sensors will help the City better understand who uses the park and how.

“These sensors are able to tell us how many people come into the park, but they can also use movement data to differentiate between the various types of park users,” said Leasa. “The goal is to use the data to inform operations, maintenance and planning for a more inclusive and accessible space.”

The sensors differentiate between adult and child pedestrians, bikes, wheelchairs, strollers, skateboarders, dogs, e-scooters, and mobility scooters. They capture information on the number of users in each category, their speed of travel, and how they move throughout the park. Even though these sensors capture detailed data, they do not capture personal or identifying information, which was a top priority to respect the privacy of those visiting the park.

“Victoria Park is a public space that we want everyone to feel comfortable and safe using," Leasa shared. “The fact that this solution doesn’t capture or collect identifying information was important to us.”

Victoria Park in the spring

The sensors use vision-based technology to collect count, speed and movement data, but do not collect personal identifying information. While they do use video cameras to collect visual data, they do not store video files. An integrated computer processes the video stream in real-time to gather count and classification data, but the raw footage is then discarded. This means identifying information about a user’s physical appearance is never stored – all that remains is the data that tells us how many users were in the space and how they travelled.

This technological solution is only one of the approaches the City is taking to make sure the updated plan reflects the community’s needs. The City is also planning to hold public engagement sessions later this year to give the community an opportunity to share feedback on how they use Victoria Park and discuss some key topics that will help drive recommendations and the long-term vision of the park.

“We want the master plan to be a living document that reflects our city and the people using this unique park space,” said Leasa. “I’m excited by the opportunities this data will give us so Victoria Park can continue to be enjoyed for years to come.”

To learn more about the Victoria Park Master Plan and subscribe to be notified about future engagement opportunities, visit engagewr.ca/VictoriaParkMP.