Most in B.C. agree out of doors recreation helps psychological well being: ballot

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The Ipsos survey found that more than half of low-income earners find it difficult to participate in outdoor leisure activities.

File photo of people resting during a hike. Photo by Nick Nault

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A majority of British Columbians agree outdoor recreation is important for good mental health, but low-income earners are less likely to participate, according to a new poll.

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The Ipsos survey, commissioned by BC’s Outdoor Recreation Council, found that 70 percent of BC residents surveyed had participated in outdoor recreation activities, such as hiking, skiing or fishing, in the last year.

Higher participation rates were found among men (75 percent), younger people ages 18 to 34 (91 percent), and those with annual household incomes over $100,000 (79 percent) and children (79 percent.)

Those who participated least often in outdoor activities were women (65 percent), people over the age of 55 (49 percent), and people with annual household incomes of $40,000 or less (56 percent).

Other obstacles to spending more time in nature identified in the survey are not enough time, no one to go with, too expensive, insufficient knowledge and experience, and a disability.

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85 percent of respondents agreed that more government investment should be made in the development and maintenance of trails, parks and other recreational facilities.

Top issues over the past year include washroom availability (42 percent), parking space availability (40 percent), camping reservation issues (28 percent), overcrowding (28 percent), lack of trash cans (25 percent) and poorly maintained hiking trails (23 percent.)

Other complaints include poorly maintained campgrounds or park areas, closed trails due to poor trail conditions, and loss of road access to a park, recreation area, or trail.

Nine percent said they were unable to use campgrounds, day use areas, trails, or outbuildings because they are not accessible to people with disabilities.

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Louise Pedersen, executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, said the pandemic has prompted a surge in interest in being in nature, and nature has become an essential place for people to gather and escape during stressful times .

“However, there hasn’t been a recent effort to understand the importance of outdoor recreation for British Columbia residents and the barriers to participation, so we decided to find out to ensure this information is made available to decision makers and to support our advocacy efforts for increased outdoor recreation opportunities for all British Columbians,” Pedersen said in a statement Friday.

When asked about the benefits of recreation, 94 percent agreed that outdoor recreation is good for their mental health, while 90 percent said it helps them increase their appreciation for nature, according to the survey.

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Additionally, 74 percent said access to good outdoor recreation is a major reason they chose to live in their community.

“This survey validated that access to outdoor recreation opportunities is critical for British Columbia residents, promotes our physical, mental and social well-being, helps us experience and appreciate the great outdoors, and when it comes to making choices for a place to live, access to quality outdoor recreation is a critical factor for most of us,” said Pedersen.

The Ipsos survey of 800 adults v. was carried out from May 26th to 30th. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points, 19 out of 20.

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