This is an overview and potentially a simplistic view of possible governance arrangements that may suit a city.

The exploration of the governance choices related to park management and especially urban park management where there is a very interesting intersection of community, local government, NFP and national or regional government set in an ever-changing (City) environment is extremely complex.  Cities develop and mature as a system and are generally marked by noticeable and distinct phases such as:

  • The Peri-Urban – the tree and sea change areas
  • Growth Corridors – Outer Suburb sprawl
  • Regional Corridors – existing major suburb areas
  • Mature middle established zones – the leafy suburbs
  • Mature Core – Inner City (CBD) decline and re-invigoration

A classic city would look much like:

ParkGov6

It is rare in the western world and parts of Asia to see a new city develop from a greenfield site.  In fact, it is in India and China where we will see new cities emerge from close to greenfield sites.  For the majority of the world they are generally in an absolute state of flux and change.  In addition, this is even more so with city populations in 2014 accounted for 54% of the total global population, up from 34% in 1960, and this is expected to be 66% by 2050.

The Governance models need to be able to respond to these phases and changing societal needs.  The response in governance models is also a reflection in the ever-changing approaches to park management and in recent times, the most successful governance models have moved away from “public” (state/government) control towards more social central models such as Central Park or the Golden Gate model.

These City Phases do change over time as an “Growth Corridor” becomes the “Regional Corridor” that becomes the “Mature Middle” and thus the governance models need to evolve and adapt.

The types of Governance Models also reflect a range of functional failures that may have occurred from:

  • Planning related issues be it at a Metro-wide, Regional, Local or Functional scale such as biodiversity to flood to trails
  • Capital capacity to build and maintain a system
  • Management requirements and needs– operations and renewal
  • Community reach & engagement

 

So what Governance Models should a “City” consider?

The Mature Core:

Cities with a “Mature Core” (generally the Central Business District and inner suburbs) tend to have well established parks and open space but go through increased population growth, opening the central business district to a river or water frontage and the reclaiming of industrial lands usually ports and docklands.  The usual focus is the need to establish new parks and open space at significant costs or restore existing parks that aren’t well suited to a modern city.

Generally, you will find in the likes of London, New York and San Francisco a mixture of governance models:

  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Trust –Tax: Centennial Parks (Australia)
  • Local Government/Authority – Rate
  • Social – NFP (Not for Profit) – Central Park Conservancy (USA)
  • Social – Public Partnership: Golden Gate Park (USA)

They have generally come about in response to a revitalisation of the Cities inner parklands, the classic Examples are:

  • Central Park (New York)
  • Royal Parks (London)
  • Sydney Harbour Trust (Australia)
  • The Highline (New York)

 

Mature middle established zones – the leafy suburbs

Cities with a “Mature Middle” tend to have well established parks and open space and have some limited change through increased population growth.  However, they do have demand for connecting trails between the “Mature Core” and the “Regional Corridors” and for existing parks to adapt to changing social needs – generally the “coffee” set and changing recreation uses.  The usual focus is for park managers to offer more at less cost.

Generally, you will find in the likes of London, Melbourne, Sydney, New York and San Francisco a mixture of governance models:

  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Trust –Tax: Centennial Parks (Australia)
  • Local Government/Authority – Rate
  • Social – Public Partnership: Golden Gate Park (USA)
  • For Profit – The Butchart Gardens (Canada)
  • The true Benefit Organisation – financially independent from public funds: Cornwall Park (NZ)

The classic Examples are:

  • The Royal Parks such as Richmond Park (London)
  • Yarra Bend Park (Melbourne)
  • Botanical Gardens (Various)
  • Stanley Park (Vancouver)

 

Regional Corridors – existing major suburb areas

Cities with a “Regional Corridors” tend to have young parks and open space that have been established over the last 40 years and have well established population basis.   These areas also have significant environmental values that are generally well established.  However, the majority of the parks have not yet been fully developed and thus have large areas of underutilised areas.  Furthermore, the trail networks have yet to be connected and completed.  The usual focus is on further capital development of parks and trails and for park managers to be more cost effective.

Generally, you will find in the likes of London, New York and San Francisco a mixture of governance models:

  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Local Government/Authority – Rate
  • Aggregated Local – Lee Valley (UK), Regional District (USA)
  • Social – Public Partnership: Golden Gate Park (USA)
  • Alliance – Chicago Wilderness, City Parks Alliance or San Francisco Parks Alliance
  • For Profit – The Butchart Gardens (Canada)
  • The true Benefit Organisation – financially independent from public funds: Cornwall Park (NZ)

 

In this zone we see the need for local authorities to work together to meet the open space needs of community, the classic Examples are:

  • Lee Valley (UK),
  • East Bay Regional District (USA)
  • Cornwall Park (NZ)
  • Metro Vancouver’s regional parks (Canada)

 

Growth Corridors – Outer Suburb sprawl

Cities with a “Growth Corridor” tend to have few parks and open space but are expecting to go through a massive population and development growth.  They typically have the challenge of balancing the environmental and agricultural landscapes and values against the needs for new allotments and subdivisions.

Generally you also find that National, State and Regional parks are more evident in this corridor and they are faced with the challenge of increasing visitation and expect changes in park uses to meet the growing population.   The usual focus is on the need to establish new parks and open space at significant costs before the population grows.

Generally, you will find in the likes of London, New York and San Francisco a mixture of governance models:

  • The Public Sector – Consolidated Revenue: the typical National Parks Service (eg: USA NPS)
  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Local Government/Authority – Rate
  • Aggregated Local – Lee Valley (UK), Regional District (USA)
  • Alliance – Chicago Wilderness, City Parks Alliance or San Francisco Parks Alliance

The classic Examples are:

  • Western Sydney Parklands (Australia)
  • Lee Valley (London)
  • Metro Vancouver’s regional parks (Canada)

 

The Peri-Urban – the tree and sea change areas

Cities with a “The Peri-Urban” tend to have well established parks and open space with a sparse population basis.  The parks in this zone service the broader community and city as larger recreational and environmental areas.  There is typically heighten expectation for services and recreational opportunities and they have generally become the weekend venues for a crowded city.  The usual focus is the need to retrofit parks and open space to suit a modern city.

Generally, you will find in the likes of London, New York and San Francisco a mixture of governance models:

  • The Public Sector – Consolidated Revenue: the typical National Parks Service (eg: USA NPS)
  • Public-Rate – Parks Victoria
  • Traditional Owner – Tax (Indigenous Protected Areas – Australia)
  • Local Government/Authority – Rate
  • Aggregated Local – Lee Valley (UK), Regional District (USA)

The classic Examples are:

  • Dandenong Ranges National Park (Melbourne – Australia)
  • Royal National Park (Sydney – Australia)