Thursday, April 23, 2020

Enhancing public programming in regional parks to better connect people with nature

Over the past week, I’ve posted about regional parks in Metro Vancouver.

One of the goals of the Metro Vancouver Regional District is to enhance public programming within its park network:

  • To instil knowledge and deeper understanding of nature so people:
    • respect, protect and care for nature and regional parks;
    • feel comfortable in and want to become familiar with nature;
    • make intellectual and emotional connections while they are in nature;
    • develop a sense of wonder about nature, and strive to live sustainably.
  • To enhance regional park visitor enjoyment. To build community connected to regional parks.
  • To showcase nature to regional park visitors.

The regional district’s future enhanced parks programming will be focused around the following themes:

Broaden Your Base: Work needs to be done to connect culturally diverse families, seniors, young adults, and older teens to nature.

Extend Your Reach: Increase awareness of Metro Vancouver Regional Parks’ outdoor programming.

Make a Deeper Connection: Improve public programming to do a better job of acknowledging the unique essence of place and ecology that defines each regional park and makes it special.

Invest in Youth: Children today spend too much time indoors, and when they do get outside, they are constrained and supervised by parents worried about their safety. Park programming should connect children to nature facilitated by a trusted mentor. This can foster a lifetime of environmental engagement.

Ensure Financial Sustainability: Set programming fees to stay in line with comparable market rates, and not unduly subsidize program and event costs through the tax levy.

Enhancing public programming requires additional staff which would increase regional park expenditures. The regional district will be exploring various cost recovery options as follows:

A pyramid model for revenue generations for parks programming. Select image to enlarge.

In Langley City, some recreation programs have fee such as fitness classes, while other services are free. The idea of having various cost recovery options for recreation and park services is nothing new.

While public programming will not likely resume for some time due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Once we get through this pandemic, I will look forward to seeing more public programming in our regional parks. I think the challenge for the regional district will be to balance the needs of cost recovery with the public benefits of connecting people better to nature.

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