UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Private recreation enterprise and government outdoor recreation policy Anderson, James David


Outdoor recreation facilities and services are provided by both the public and private sectors. The literature of recreation generally overemphasizes the role played by the public sector. However it is not fair to assert that the public sector has a greater role to play in meeting the recreational needs of the public. To date, it can only be stated that more attention has been paid to it. This study is descriptive in nature and explores two general topics. First, three studies, two in the United States and one, among private campground operators in British Columbia, review the basic management characteristics and problems of the private recreation sector. A business enterprise operated solely as a campground will seldom earn a profit for the operator. A multiple recreation enterprise, offering boat rentals, fishing, groceries, children's playgrounds as well as camping facilities is more likely to be profitable. The majority of private recreation facilities cluster around public recreation facilities and around other private facilities. This complementary-competitive relationship between the public and private sector must be understood if properly planned and coordinated recreation developments are to make effective use of outdoor recreation resources. The private sector is characterized by unused capacity and to attract more customers, private recreation entrepreneurs need capital to upgrade their facilities. The monopolistic-competition nature of the outdoor recreation market makes it necessary for private operators to differentiate their enterprise from their competitors. But, given the economic uncertainties of private recreation enterprises, expansion plans may require provincial government assistance, such as loan programs and technical advice and integration within a comprehensive recreation plan. The second theme relates to the need to establish a rationale for a division of labor in the provision of recreation facilities between the various levels of government and between government and private enterprise. The market is large enough that no one sector alone could ever satisfy the demand. Within the scope of outdoor recreation, government assumes three roles--promotional, regulatory and developmental. All can affect the private recreation sector. Unfortunately government often fails to recognize this and public recreation policies and programs often produce conflicting and unanticipated effects on the private sector. It is necessary for these government departments responsible for outdoor recreation to assume a leadership role for coordination of all aspects of outdoor recreation. Recreation plans must be comprehensive and include the supply of recreation facilities by the private sector. An analysis of the departmental structures of government of the United States, Canada and British Columbia reveals that outdoor recreation has been genera 11y assigned to resource management agencies such as parks, forestry and agriculture. The resource management agencies lack the legislative authority, finances, and personnel necessary to competently undertake a responsibility for coordination of all aspects of outdoor recreation. These agencies have confined their activities to their traditional areas of competency and therefore large gaps appear in government performance of comprehensive recreation planning and management. The private recreation sector often falls within these gaps. It would appear that a new institutional vehicle is necessary that is not functionally handicapped by preoccupation with policy for the management of public lands. It should then be possible to realize that outdoor recreation has other dimensions beyond the confines of public facilities and requires the establishment of guidelines to clarify the respective roles of government and private business. A survey of private campground operators in British Columbia indicates a readiness to accept government leadership.

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