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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Users’ perceptions of the relative importance of different functions and attributes of neighbourhood parks Joardar, Souro Dyuti

Abstract

This thesis enquires into users' perceptions of the various possible roles of neighbourhood parks and open spaces. The prevailing approach to neighbourhood park planning, based primarily on professional value judgements has often led to lack of appreciation of the present neighbourhood parks by the residents. Further understanding of the residents' perception of the relative importance of the different functions of neighbourhood parks is, therefore, necessary for successful future planning and design of these areas. Specifically, this study compares the preference of the teenage and adult residents living in low income areas of Vancouver for various active vs. passive types of recreation. It also compares the perceived importance of various physical attributes of parks associated with their active and passive recreational use qualities as well as their environmental amenity values. The investigations were made through a residence-based questionnaire survey around three parks of ten to fifteen acres located in low income neighbourhoods in Vancouver. The parks were different in terms of level of facilities and landscape character. Activity preferences were measured through the expressed popularity and frequency of participation in each activity in the selected parks as well as in a hypothetical ideal neighbourhood park perceived by the respondents. The park attributes were compared through the expressed importance of these attributes for a hypothetical Ideal park and by the correlations between the perceived quality of these attributes of the selected parks and the overall impression and use of these parks. The effects of distance from the park on park use and participation in the different activities were also analyzed. Among the six activities studied, walking for pleasure was found to be the most preferred one. The expressed level of participation in the selected activities favoured the passive than the active types of recreation. Moreover, the overall impression and use of the selected parks were found to correlate more strongly with the perceived scenic value, auditory, shade and privacy qualities of these parks than with the facilities for active games and sports. Among the selected parks, the one less oriented to games and sports facilities but richer in terms of environmental qualities was found to be comparatively preferred to the one designed only for active recreation. Several demographic characteristics correlated significantly with activity preferences. Distance from the parks showed significant negative effects on the level of use, participation in many activities and overall image of the selected parks. Examples of public parks and open spaces designed solely as playfields are not too few in our cities. The findings of this study suggest that keeping in mind the need for multiple use planning, neighbourhood parks suitably landscaped to provide passive recreational opportunity and functioning as resource materials towards the ambient quality of the residential milieu are likely to generate greater public appreciation than areas developed solely for active games and sports. Other implications of the findings and suggestions for further research have been discussed in the concluding chapter.

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