Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Equal opportunity in the provision of urban recreation resources has been the principal goal of most public leisure service agencies yet the reliance on the use of recreation standards in the planning of opportunities does not guarantee that equal opportunity in fact is being achieved. In order to assess equal opportunity of provision, a theoretical model is proposed that establishes an evaluative criterion based on the coincidence of same levels of the demand for recreation and of the supply of resources at the same points on a surface representing the community. The conceptual model of urban recreation that is proposed illustrates the interrelationship of the recreation supply and demand systems, the role of accessibility and perceptions in explaining the nature of participation, and the outcome of the relationship in terms of the selection of an appropriate site and the resultant experience. Using data drawn from a community survey of households (n = 1163) conducted in the town of Oakville, Ontario and an inventory of the town's parks (n = 114), an unconstrained gravity model was calibrated based on a structure suggested by the conceptual model. Measures of potential for the recreation demand system and for the recreation supply system were calculated directly from the gravity model employing regression coefficients as weights in the index. Contour maps were then generated which reflected the variations in both the demand for and the supply of urban recreation opportunities in the community. The recreation opportunity spatial system potential surface was created by taking the ratio of the demand and supply surfaces which, in theory, should be a smooth surface if equal opportunity is being achieved in the community. Incidences of "supply-rich" and "supply-poor" regions within the community are described and reasons for their occurrence offered. This surface was then compared to one generated by a traditional gravity model and differences between the two surfaces described. Implications of the conceptual model and the potential surfaces for urban recreation planning are discussed, and special attention is given to the importance of perceptions in explaining recreation behaviour in an urban context.



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