The role of outdoor recreation in regional development : a study of Hecla Provincial Park

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Brown, Nicholas,
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With an increasing emphasis being placed on regional programs aimed at reducing the income and employment disparities that exist between and within Provinces of Canada, there is an accompaning interest in the way in which development of outdoor recreation resources can facilitate achievement of Provincial and Federal goals in this area. This requires an understanding of the regional development process and the linkages that connect programs with policy goals. Only with this information can planning and resource allocation be undertaken in a judicious manner. A review of the literature reveals that there is a lack of appreciation of the types of social and economic impacts generated by development of outdoor recreation resources, and of their probable magnitude. Some researchers suggest that outdoor recreation may provide the panacea for certain depressed rural areas, while others conclude that there is no clear evidence to support such a hypothesis. Furthermore, most studies concentrate on visitor expenditure impacts, neglecting the effects of capital and operational expenditures which may form a large part of the total income and employment generated by an extensive type of outdoor recreation development. Finally data on the comparative impacts of alternative resource development programs must be available to policy makers so that they can realistically evaluate the options. This background should lead to increased efficiency and equity from public decisions for given cost levels. The purpose of this research is to provide data on these questions by analyzing the regional impacts generated from the development and operation of Hecla Provincial Park, an extensive Government recreation area in the Interlake region of Manitoba. The period investigated is 1969 to 1977. A general theoretical framework of the social and economic impacts which can result from outdoor recreation developments is established, and from a consideration of the Federal and Provincial Government objectives in regional development, the criteria of income and employment are isolated as being the impact indicators of prime importance. The quantitative method used for evaluation, consistent with impact theory and the sectoral detail required, is a dynamic input-output simulation model constructed for the Interlake region...