Access to Recreation in Rural Communities: Municipal Recreation’s Approaches to Supporting Citizens Living with Low Incomes
Keywords:access, low-income, municipal recreation, rural
Rural communities often have fewer resources and supports to cultivate recreation participation, making participation in recreation less accessible for low-income citizens. Such barriers highlight the important role rural recreation practitioners have in terms of developing and delivering access provisions for these citizens. The objectives of this study are as follows: 1) explore the access provisions that recreation practitioners design and deliver to rural low-income citizens, and 2) discuss the implications of the access provisions in relation to the rural context and low-income citizens’ participation in recreation. This paper focuses on research conducted in 2019-2020 in Atlantic Canada. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 16 municipal recreation practitioners. Through the social ecological framework, the results revealed three access provisions designed for and delivered to rural low-income citizens: 1) one-on-one support for programmatic processes, 2) flexibility with financial policies and programs, and 3) building reach: the role of community partnerships. Based on these findings, this study discusses the benefits of these provisions in terms of supporting access to recreation for low-income citizens residing in rural communities. Considering the rural landscape, we recommend access provisions in rural communities encompass more personal, flexible, and community approaches as a means to supporting access to recreation for citizens of limited financial means.
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