UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Public participation in comprehensive municipal parks and recreation planning Freed, Linda Lee


The purpose of this study was to determine the nature and the adequacy of public participation methods used in the process of developing municipal parks and recreation plans. The work is based largely on library research and participant-observation of one case study. It is evident from the literature that the comprehensive or master plan approach is typical of good, current parks and recreation planning practice. As well, there is virtually unanimous agreement on the importance of public participation in the plan making process. The stated purposes of public participation in plan preparation forms the basis of a set of goals and targets which have been used to assess the adequacy of the participation methods currently used in parks and recreation planning. These methods were identified through a review of plan documents authoritatively regarded as examples of good practice. The three major methodological types identified are surveys, select committees, and staff contacts. Results of assessing these methods against the stated criteria indicate that no method is sufficient alone to ensure adequate public participation in the planning process. The survey method should be used in combination with a select committee or staff contact, because the inherent weaknesses of the first are strong points of the others. This conclusion is explored and amplified by examining a case study in which all three methods were employed. Statistical data indicates that while all three methods were used, there remained significant differences in basic parks and recreation priorities among the general public, the plan makers and the political decision makers. This result is attributed to problems in the implementation of the methodologies and in the utilization of data and findings that resulted from their use. Recommendations based on this research suggest improvement in the conduct of public participation and in the integration of participation with other elements of the planning process: -methodologies should be used to complement each other, -each method should be implemented fully and carefully, so that the quality of the results approaches the potential ideally available within each method, -inherent strengths and weaknesses of public participation should be considered in the planning process and in the utilization and feedback of participation results throughout the process.

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