Recreation planning was my professional work and passion for almost 30 years. I can best describe it as creating places and spaces for a variety of recreational pursuits in which the participants for each of the diverse pursuits go home at the end of the day satisfied that their particular desired experience has been fulfilled.
With the high value/costs of public land set aside for recreational use there is today a growing trend of concern to me. We are now undertaking recreation planning instead of planning for recreation.
The difference? My passion to plan for recreation puts the primary emphasis on providing opportunities for the widest possible variety of quality recreational experiences. What I see happening now however is that such planning is increasingly focusing on getting the maximum financial return on open space. In other words, giving priority to recreation and sporting interests that attract funds rather than focusing on satisfying diverse community needs.
This trend also smacks of going back to the bad old days where priority was given to young active predominantly male sporting interests that gain media attention and develop sporting champions. A worthy cause but not at the expense of the majority of an increasingly ageing population who want to enjoy recreational passions for the sheer love of doing so and to keep them healthy in mind, body and spirit.
Balance in all things is vital to personal and community health and wellbeing, including in the provision of opportunities for quality leisure, recreation and sporting experiences.