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Leisure as community catalyst:  Re-visiting a community twenty years after the development of a...

Key Message

The results of this study demonstrate how one community has been successful in converting leisure into social, cultural, economic, and environmental benefits over a twenty year period.

Source

Barnes, M., Forrester, S., & Walsh, M. (2008). Leisure as community catalyst: Re-visiting a community twenty years after the development of a municipal artificial white water river. Proceedings of the World Leisure Congress, 10th , Quebec City. Oral presentation #094, p. 26.

Purpose

A goal of many municipal recreation departments is to improve the quality of life for community members through the provision of leisure. Leisure, in it’s many forms, is associated with various benefits (personal, social, economic, or environmental) (Driver, Brown, & Peterson, 1991; Park & Clark, 1997; Rudick, 1996; Sefton & Mummery 1995).

It is these benefits that often serve as a catalyst for communities to invest resources into communities to invest resources into the development of infrastructure. Yet, once developed, communities often fail to revisit the intended benefits to determine the actual outcomes. It is this re-examination which serves as the purpose of this investigation: to study the effects of a municipal artificial white water river development on a local community twenty years after it’s inception. As an intrinsic case study (Stake, 200), this research was undertaken because of the interest of the particulars of this unique case was the first North American artificial white water river. As a descriptive case study (Merriam, 1998), our focus was on the outcomes of the study; that is the impacts of the artificial white water river on the local community. Data were collected in three ways for this study.

First, local community newspaper articles and transcribed television news coverage dating back to 1980 were content analyzed. Second, six interviews were conducted with key stakeholders and lastly, a focus group with the mayor, the director of communications and special projects for the city, and a municipal recreation and professional were completed.

Evidence

The data suggest that the artificial white water river served as a catalyst for:
1. the natural extension of a well-known park system;
2. The re-development of a decaying urban downtown;
3. A water feature for recreational, instructional and competitive canoeing, kayaking, rafting and tubing; and
4. A source of community identity and pride.

The data also reveal a number of operational challenges associated with the artificial white water river which threaten it’s sustainability.

The results of this study demonstrate how one community has been successful in converting leisure into social, cultural, economic, and environmental benefits over a twenty year period.

Additional Information

Indirect - link - go direct to source | 10th World Leisure Congress Proceedings

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

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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