Beyond white, educated women, Metro Vancouver wants to engage ethnic minorities in regional parks

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      Meet Carol Ann, reads a document regarding regional parks in Metro Vancouver.

      She’s likely white, educated, and enjoys spending time in parks.

      In addition to Carol Ann, the Metro Vancouver regional government, which operates a network of parks, wants to reach more audiences, one of the tasks being addressed by the document.

      The document embodies a new strategy to broaden the base of people participating in programs in regional parks.

      The intended groups are culturally diverse families, seniors, young adults, and older teens.

      Going back to Carol Ann, the strategy prepared by Don Enright Consulting stated: “She is in her late forties, resides in Vancouver where she works fulltime in the legal profession, and is an avid outdoors person and naturalist in her spare time.”

      The document is part of a report by David Leavers, division manager for visitor and operations services of Metro Vancouver, to the regional parks committee.

      The committee meets Wednesday (April 1), and Leavers’ report is included in its agenda.

      “Carol Ann represents a substantial part of the program’s clientele—educated, middle-class people (often but not exclusively women of European ethnic origin) who enjoy signing up for public events and programs,” the strategy document notes.

      People like Carol Ann “relate to your interpreters and find an easy rapport with them”.

      Moreover, “they have a strong level of environmental literacy and commitment, and seek to solidify their relationship with nature through educational programs”.

      Metro Vancouver is one of the most culturally diverse metropolitan areas in Canada.

      However, that diversity is not reflected in the audiences that participate in the regional government’s programs in its parks.

      “The program is very good at creating experiences by nature buffs, for nature buffs—particularly middle-class, educated women (acknowledging that it is also quite successful in reaching a diverse audience through school programming.),” according to the document.

      The paper also notes that the program is “weak in connecting with culturally diverse families” as well as with seniors, young adults and older teens.

      “To ensure continued relevance, the program will need to acknowledge the full diversity of its publics, and attract them on their own terms,” the document noted.

      In his report, Leavers mentions five strategic directions for programming in regional parks.

      One is broadening the base of audiences.

      “Work needs to be done to connect with culturally diverse families, seniors, young adults and older teens,” Leavers wrote.

      Leavers added that programming will “need to acknowledge the full diversity of the public”.

      As of April 2015, Metro Vancouver’s regional park system is composed of 33 sites, five greenways, two  ecological conservancy, and four regional park reserves.

      The regional park system covers as of that time about 14,500 hectares of land or around four percent of the region’s land area.

      According to the strategy document, a total of 50,416 people participated in public programming services at regional parksin 2018.

      These services included drop-in visits, workshops, and guided tours.