Hamilton Needs More Community-Driven Outdoor Recreation Projects

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Join us in becoming part of this grassroots community initiative to bring more accessible, exciting Outdoor Physical Recreation opportunities to Hamilton!

The City of Hamilton is in the midst of a revitalization, with strong economic indicators, explosive city growth and development, and decreasing crime rates. At the same time, Hamilton's youth are less active than their Ontario counterparts, and obesity rates are trending up for all ages (1). The statistics are not limited to children: Public Health Ontario estimates that 42% of adults are not getting the daily recommended amount of physical activity (2). These alarming statistics have a massive direct impact on healthcare: The Public Health Ontario study referenced above estimates the direct and indirect costs of physical inactivity to the healthcare system in Ontario is $2.6 billion/year. The physical inactivity epidemic is global, and organizations such as the World Health Organization have highlighted that grassroots community engagement, co-development, and ownership of initiatives to increase physical activity is a critical and effective means of addressing this issue (3). 

As part of its revitalization strategy, the City of Hamilton has recognized that increasing access to free, unstructured recreational physical activity opportunities that support a healthy lifestyle is a high priority. A 2008 study by researchers at Johns Hopkin’s University determined that the likelihood of being an overweight adult was reduced 48 percent for those adolescents who skated or biked more than four times a week, which was 2.4x the reduction observed for those who played soccer or other organized sports three or four times a week (4). As a specific example of recognizing the importance of these types of opportunities, a 2017 City of Hamilton study report identified that there is a deficiency in the number of skateboard/wheeled sports amenities in the city and recommended up to 4 community-level skateboard/wheeled sport parks be developed and built by 2021, with an additional 1-2 by 2031 (5). While the City is continuing to evaluate opportunities, cohesive community-led groups could accelerate development and at the same time ensure that the developed solutions best serve the needs and desires of the communities themselves.

In one example of a community-initiated City of Hamilton success story, a dirt pump track was built in Central Hamilton’s Gage Park in 2015 after the Crown Point Youth Council presented the initiative to the Hamilton Public Works Committee in June 2015. The success of the project is staggering: Usage of the pump track is more than 4000x higher than initial projections, and user satisfaction as of 2017 has far exceeded the targets established (6). While the City recognized the importance of the initiative, it was driven to completion through active community involvement.

While the examples highlighted above focus on wheeled sports, the goal of this petition is to:

  1. Highlight that grassroots community groups can drive significant recreation projects to completion; and 
  2. To seed community groups throughout the City with a common goal of bringing more accessible, exciting FREE Outdoor Physical Recreation opportunities to Hamilton.

Please take a moment to sign this petition to show your support. Join us in ensuring that Hamilton’s revitalization includes Outdoor Recreation initiatives for your community!

Please send an e-mail to hamiltonforoutdoorrecreation@gmail.com if you are interested in staying connected and would like to share ideas. You can also use the comments section if you don't want to be directly contacted.

1 - Hamilton's revitalization continues, leaving some behind. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/hamilton-vital-signs-20018-1.4683702 (last visited 2019/09/26);

2 - Burden of Chronic Diseases in Ontario. Public Health Ontario. https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/data-and-analysis/chronic-disease/cdburden (last visited 2019/09/26);

3 - Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/publications-detail/global-action-plan-on-physical-activity-2018%E2%80%932030 (last visited 2019/09/26)

4 - Menschik D et al. Adolescent Physical Activities as Predictors of Young Adult Weight. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(1):29–33. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2007.14 

5 - Skateboard Park Study (CES17031) (City Wide). City of Hamilton. https://d3fpllf1m7bbt3.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/media/browser/2017-07-18/skateboard-park-study-staff-report.pdf (last visited 2019/09/26)

6 - Gage Park Family Skills Bike Park Update – Monitoring Plan 2015 (CES16012) (Ward 3). City of Hamilton. https://pub-hamilton.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=125701 (last visited 2019/09/26)