Did you know that the most popular form of recreation in Alberta is walking? How about that the preferred place that Albertans like to recreate is outside, particularly in parks? And did you know that more than a third of Albertans want to be more active but currently aren’t? These are just a few of the insights gained from the Alberta Recreation Survey, and that data from 2000-2013 is now available on Alberta’s Open Government Portal.
The Alberta Recreation Survey is a series of surveys that have been conducted approximately every four years since 1981. It collects information related to participation patterns of Albertans and the factors which influence their recreation activity choices. Not only that, but it also happens to be the only activity-based survey in Canada to have been conducted over 30 years.
With the addition of data sets from the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2013 Alberta Recreation Survey now available on the Government of Alberta’s Open Government Portal, researchers, stakeholders, media and the public can easily compare the data sets and see how Alberta’s attitude towards recreation has changed over time.
“I use the information in the final report in my RLS 100 (Life, Leisure, and the Pursuit of Happiness) and 223 (Leisure and Human Behaviour) undergraduate courses,” Gordon Walker, PhD, Professor of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta says. “[The survey information] helps students understand the breadth of leisure activities Albertans engage in, the ‘leisure constraints’ they often report they face, and the considerable effect they believe leisure has on the quality of their lives.”
But if you’re not a researcher or part of the recreation sector, what does the survey hold? Well, apart from the bragging rights that come with having the only survey of its kind in Canada, the Alberta Recreation Survey tells us that recreation is important to Albertans. So important, that almost every Albertan participates in one form of recreation or another. It is a part of our culture, and for many of us, recreation is a part of our identities (we all know that one person who is REALLY into running, or basketball, or yoga, or all three).
For recreation stakeholders such as RC Strategies, a consulting company that specializes in community development and wellness infrastructure, the survey can provide useful insights on where the attitudes of Albertans are when it comes to recreation. This can be valuable when planning new initiatives to get more Albertans more active. With the information available on the Open Government Portal, stakeholders are also able to see patterns and trends, which also helps with planning – including infrastructure and programming – marketing and being part of the conversation on recreation.
“The Alberta Recreation Survey is an extremely valuable resource,” Rob Parks from RC Strategies says. “We work with a lot of municipalities across Alberta and reference the findings of the survey frequently in our projects. The time series data provides insights into participation trends that can be used for planning purposes. The pan-provincial data collection ensures the information is relevant to our clients and the large sample provides great reliability.”
On the government side, the survey is part of Alberta’s supports to national and provincial initiatives such as outcomes of active Alberta and the Framework for Recreation in Canada. Being the only one of its kind in Canada, the results of the survey, and the actual survey itself, can be useful in helping coordinate provinces and policy makers across the country, providing evidence-based information so they can create the best policy possible. The survey results are also used to plan recreation, parks and leisure opportunities across the entire province.
Ultimately, having the survey available on the Open Government Portal is just one more step towards a more transparent policy development process, a more open government, and more information on how Albertans spend their free time.
You can check out the 2000 – 2013 data for yourself on the Government of Alberta Open Government Portal. More information on the Alberta Recreation Survey, including all of the survey years and results and analysis is available on the Culture and Tourism website.