FRAMEWORK FOR RECREATION IN CANADA

STORIES IN THE FIELD

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The course Public Policy in Recreation, Sport and Tourism helps students develop a critical understanding of public policy and governance in relation to sport, recreation and tourism. It was initiated after a curriculum review identified the understanding of policy and policy processes as a major gap in what students were learning. It is critical for them to learn about the various policies in recreation, sport and tourism that drive decisions and work on the ground. The challenge is to engage students in learning about policy and get them excited about the relevance of policy to their lives and their future work. “Policy” can be an intimidating term to many, especially to students who have not yet seen how it plays out and its importance on the ground.

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In the summer and fall of 2014, communities in the Central Fraser Valley began to engage in a conversation about how best to manage the growing problem of homelessness. In Mission, both social and traditional media began to take note of issues such as visible poverty and behavioural confrontations in the downtown; homeless encampments and tragic deaths near the CNR tracks; open drug abuse and the discarding of bio-hazardous needles in the vicinity of the Mission library and museum; and a growing problem with drug-related crime, coupled with an under-resourced RCMP force. The subject of homelessness became a hot topic in the fall election.

Homelessness has a diverse range of causes, but at its root, it is largely an issue of poverty, which is a lack of resources of every kind. Those resources, or assets, include a supportive social structure around the person; employment and education; physical and mental health services; creative, spiritual and physical opportunities; life and coping skills; and timely access to crisis response services. While the most prominent resource needed is a safe and stable home, a significant number of homeless people have difficulty maintaining a home even when one is available, largely because of converging deficits in these other areas. In Mission, it became apparent that no single agency could be blamed for homelessness or charged with the responsibility of reversing the problem. It was apparent that effectively managing homelessness would demand the will of the community as a whole.

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Many residents and visitors were missing time in nature, which is important for physical and mental health. In a public consultation, people identified some key barriers to engaging in nature, including a fear of getting lost, the high cost of equipment, a lack of fitness, and an inability to find their way around a nature area. Riverview recreation staff was trying to find ways to encourage people of all ages to use their parks and trails and to be outdoors in nature more often.

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High turnover among recreation leaders in the North. The program addresses this challenge by providing sustainable training that connects learners to their communities. Training and networking builds confidence and provides support that reduces burnout.

Barriers to accessing training from rural and remote communities. The program addresses this challenge by providing high-quality learning opportunities and certification to individuals in all communities. Fees are low (or subsidized) to allow people with fewer resources to participate, and the curriculum welcomes diversity in language, literacy, learning styles and culture.

Many people are new to online learning and technological constraints are sometimes barriers to participation. The program addresses this by helping participants develop digital literacies that are also transferable to other online learning opportunities.

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The town’s recreation facilities had become unsafe, to the point where they could not and were not being used. Community-based groups, including the school district who had been calling for repairs for three years, were particularly concerned about the surfaces on the track and tennis courts. Therefore, a combination of considerations, including risk management, aesthetics, and the demand from user groups (traditional and emerging), provided the impetus for action.

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The Antigonish County Recreation Department had some accessibility equipment available for free loan (Including the hippocampe, a wheel chair that can access many different types of all season terrain and can also float in the water) but not enough to meet their goal of inclusive recreation for all.

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COMMUNITIES COMING TOGETHER

When David Clark left Rankin Inlet to play hockey, he couldn’t have known he would someday return to become the community’s recreation coordinator. In a career spent championing the efforts of others, the potential he sees in his community is still a source of excitement.

“It’s so empowering to see younger kids coming through,” he says, “making it so obvious that they’ll be the ones running these programs down the road.”

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Like many communities across Canada, the City of Mississauga faces challenges related to aging infrastructure, changing demographics, and the need to reduce access and inclusion barriers to programs and facility use. In order to address these challenges, city recreation staff embarked on a process to develop a new Recreation Strategic Master Plan. This involved a review of existing conditions and the development of recommendations on how to address these challenges. The Framework for Recreation in Canada served as a support document to the Strategy process and document, as its goals, specifically goals 1, 2 and 4 directly align with the issues the city is facing.

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Saanich is an aging municipality: by 2036, 28.2% of Saanich residents will be 65 or older. To address this shifting demographic, the municipality created an Older Adults Strategy, which was adopted by Saanich Council in June 2017. In developing the Strategy, 2,200 individuals were consulted about services and facilities for older adults offered by Saanich Parks and Recreation. One repeated suggestion was to improve access to the Recreation Centre in Lambrick Park with a paved, well-lit pathway. Many older adults and people with mobility concerns who rely on the bus to get to the park had to walk 430 meters to reach the recreation centre. The pathway was not continuous and was uneven due to different surface materials (asphalt, concrete and gravel). It was dark at night and had no benches along the way for rest. It was also difficult for people to reach Recreation Integration Victoria (RIV), an inter-municipally service that assists people with disabilities in greater Victoria and whose offices are is located in the park.

Lambrick Park is a well-used Community Park. It is 13.85 ha in size, and features numerous sport facilities, a playground, a multi-use trail, as well as the Gordon Head Recreation Centre, RIV offices and other multi-purpose buildings. Therefore, access to the park is important for all residents of Saanich as well as people from across the Greater Victoria area.

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The Municipality had few options for children and youth in recreation and sport outside of traditional programming in hockey, figure skating, baseball and softball. The Recreation Commission was looking for a new activity to address Goal 1 (Active Living) that would increase young people’s opportunities to learn and enjoy an activity in nature that was fun and challenging, and can be practiced for a lifetime and with other family members. Off road/mountain cycling was the answer and a good fit with the natural environment. But the Commission would need help to get the program going.

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In Saskatchewan almost one quarter of children live in poverty (Child and Family Poverty in Saskatchewan, 2017). Children living in core neighborhoods are less likely to be physically active and participate in sport, culture and recreation activities outside of school than their peers in higher-income neighborhoods. This can result in an adverse quality of life and less access to opportunities to be healthy.

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Wayne Darlington, Manager of Park Planning & Capital Projects in the Regional District of Central Okanagan (RDCO) says: “Many people don’t use park trails because they are worried about getting lost, encountering wildlife, and a lack of fitness to negotiate the path. Others do not visit parks because of accessibility barriers.” The RDCO wanted to address these challenges and the goals in the Recreation Framework. “We wanted the public to become more engaged with their parks, connect with nature and become more active,” says Darlington.

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There had been a steady decline in both use and minor sport participation numbers at the Amherst Stadium over the past several years, due in part to financial barriers to accessing programs and services (e.g. hockey and figure skating). There was a need to provide affordable opportunities for children and youth to improve their skills and physical literacy, and to be part of active programs that enhance well-being. Amherst (and virtually all other communities) had always charged for ice time. Changing that policy would not be easy. There were concerns about the costs and cost recovery.

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ASSOCIATION QUÉBÉCOISE DU LOISIR MUNICIPAL

Children today spend much of their time in front of a screen and have become less active. They should be able to use the streets’ public space to move more, exercise their imagination by inventing games, or just spontaneously playing games like hopscotch and jump rope or sports like hockey, basketball, and soccer. Generations did so before them, and many a sports career was born while playing on the street.

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BY NB PLAYS!

In its intergenerational approach to early childhood education, Tír na nÓg Forest School is fostering a sense of community that challenges how we think about learning.

For young and old alike, it’s an opportunity to share in the rhythms of life that hold us all in common.