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Socially Sustainable Urban Development: The Role of Leisure and Recreation in a Canadian Resource Based Community Open Access


Other title
Social sustainability
Resource based communities
Leisure and recreation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Lamanes, Trina
Supervisor and department
Deacon, Leith (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
McGee, Tara (Earth and Atmospheric Sciences)
Caine, Ken (Sociology)
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Human Geography
Date accepted
Graduation date
2016-06:Fall 2016
Master of Arts
Degree level
This research examines the role leisure and recreation have in contributing to a high quality of life, citizen satisfaction, and resident retention that ultimately support the sustainability of resource based communities (RBCs) in Canada. The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and its urban service center of Fort McMurray are used as a case study for this project. The objectives of the research are 1) to explore local values, and practices around leisure and recreation, citizen satisfaction, place attachment and resident retention; 2) to evaluate the perceptions of the current state of provision of opportunities for leisure and recreation and assess the congruence with principles of socially sustainable development and; 3) to directly asses the perceptual and objective constraints that limit opportunities for leisure and recreation in an RBC. The research draws on face-to-face interviews with 25 residents in the RMWB over a five month period in 2015. The research is exploratory in nature and can be used to highlight areas that may be of interest to urban planners in particular. The findings are based on several themes that emerged during the analysis of the discourse contained in the interviews. Three key findings can be drawn from this research. First, there is an unexpected level of social cohesion and place attachment to the community based on social connections, despite a high level of resident transiency and diversity. Second, the development of social cohesion was found to be result of the spaces and opportunities for leisure and recreation in the RMWB. These spaces and opportunities were important to make social connections in a community where “everyone is from somewhere else” and where established social networks do not exist. Third, opportunities for tertiary leisure (e.g. entertainment, shopping, dining) that support a high quality of urban life was found to be lacking in the RMWB. The challenges in developing and investing in these opportunities are a result of the culture of RBCs that have irregular rhythms of social life due to the reliance on shift work and fly-in-fly-out worker practices that produce fly-over-effects.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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