City officials say plans are underway to identify land suitable for a number of large parks in the Cuenca canton. The plan to increase parkland is partly the result of a 2013 World Health Organization (WHO) study that showed the city had a significant deficit of public parks and green spaces. WHO recommends that cities provide 12 to 13 square meters of green space per citizen while Cuenca has less than five.
Some areas have already been chosen for parks, according to officials, who say work will focus first on the Cuenca parishes of Tarqui, Baños, El Valle, Racar, Sinincay, and Ricaurte.
Cuenca Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, says the first ‘mega park,’ to be called Parque de La Libertad, will begin development near Tarqui late this year.
In central Cuenca, Cabrera says studies are underway to develop parks on land now occupied by the old prison, near Av. Las Americas, north of the historic district, and to expand existing parks in the Barranco and Yanuncay River areas.
One of the objectives of the parks project is to create a Cuenca Greenway along the Tomebamba and Yanuncay Rivers. Much of the area on the river banks is already designated as parks but officials want to extend it to outlying parishes. Pablo Abad, Municipal Director of Planning, says the extended greenway would have two objectives: to provide more recreational area and protect the environment.
The largest task in developing the new parks, Cabrera says, is purchasing the property. Because of budget constraints, the overall project will take several years, he adds.