The National Benefits Hub

Research that Supports Recreation

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Background and Purpose


The first ‘Benefits Catalogue’ was published in 1992 by Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario (now Parks and Recreation Ontario) with financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation. The research evidence was summarized under the four categories of personal, social, economic and environmental benefits.

In 1997, this work was updated by the Canadian Parks/Recreation Association with financial support provided by Health Canada; evidence was grouped under eight marketing messages that captured the significant contributions of recreation, sports, fitness, arts, culture and parks. RETHINK provided the research and writing support for both the 1992 and 1997 versions of ‘ The Benefits Catalogue’.

The previous two Catalogues were widely distributed across Canada and as well to North America and world wide markets. The Catalogue had the value and capacity to:

  1. make the case for continued or expanded investment in the recreation, sports, fitness, arts, culture and parks
  2. support the redesign of programs and services to ensure the potential benefits are actually delivered along with related services.

In 2009 the Catalogue was once again updated with the name changed to Benefits DataBank to reflect its digital format and enhancement with additional types of information. This time it is the result of a partnership between ARPA (Alberta Recreation and Parks Association) and the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association.

The Benefits Catalogue is just one of a number of projects being implemented by ACE Communities (an initiative of ARPA) that is generously supported and funded by the Alberta Rural Development Fund. Additional funding and in-kind support has also been provided by Encana, Cenovus Energy and Canwest Media.


The purpose of the 2009 Benefits DataBank is to provide updated evidence for the 50 outcomes statements using leading-edge technology. The vision of the Benefits DataBank is one of sustainability with always-current research and evidence continuing to emerge through support of the users.

Additionally, future plans for the DataBank include linking the (1) benefits and evidence to (2) trends impacting benefits and (3) to emerging promising practices. Ultimately this would also be linked to a Framework of Service Excellence for the broad field of recreation, arts, culture, heritage, environment/parks and sports.

For recreation practitioners using a benefits-based approach becomes far simpler knowing the data is as close as the nearest Internet enabled computer. This online version surpasses earlier versions with its expanded accessibility and searchability. In addition to being an invaluable resource for recreation practitioners, the online availability also provides an opportunity to communicate about issues, provide feedback and promote a greater awareness among a variety of stakeholders of the value of recreation and parks and the personal, social, economic and environmental benefits they deliver.

This new DataBank also includes:

  • Additional evidence related to all categories of service (recreation, sport, fitness, arts/culture, heritage, parks and green spaces) included in over 700 references
  • Much more information specific to rural areas, arts, culture and heritage
  • Evidence summarized in the 1997 Catalogue was the most powerful research annotations up to and including 1997. All are important and timeless and thus are ALSO available online but are not repeated in the 2009 Benefits update
  • Eight key messages and the related 50 outcome statements provide the structure for this DataBank with research documented as academic or grey literature
  • Country of origin has also been identified with a Flag
  • Visitor access to encourage an UPLOAD of their own or others RESEARCH for consideration
  • More than 25 links to national and international 'BEST OR PROMISING PRACTICES' in our field, each providing excellent information on individuals, community quality of life, standards and other areas that help sustainable processes are rooted in leisure activities and services.
  • A GLOSSARY with over 15 records on different definitions and terms - including the 1997 Glossary from the previous Benefits Catalogue. 

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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