Parks are for everyone
The affordability, accessibility and convenience of park spaces are especially important and valuable for residents facing barriers to constraints to participation. The Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute’s 2011 – 2012 Sport Monitor publication found that a lack of time, excessive costs and inconvenience were among the top five barriers that prevented individuals from participating
in sport activities. Available data from Statistics Canada further identifies that participation in a physical activity is directly impacted by household income. Park spaces can help reduce these barriers by providing spaces and amenities that are available at no cost to residents. Numerous park spaces in Lethbridge include amenities such as basketball courts, sport fields, running trails, exercise equipment, and ball diamonds which are widely utilized by residents of all ages and abilities.
Quality park spaces can also help reduce accessibility barriers that many residents face. The Lethbridge sub-segment of the 2008 Alberta Recreation Survey identified that a “lack of transportation” was the most commonly indicated barrier to participation in a leisure or recreational activity. Over a quarter of respondents also indicated that recreation facilities are not convenient to use. The increased provision and promotion of park spaces provides the opportunity to help ease these barriers.
A growing trend in recreation and leisure is the demand for spontaneous or “un-structured” opportunities. People are increasingly seeking individualized, informal pursuits that can be done alone or in small groups, at flexible times, often near or at home. Park spaces are key in meeting this growing demand as they provide convenient and accessible space to partake in a multitude of different pursuits.