Transparent Reporting on Government's Progress
Target: Use of Manitoba’s provincial parks will increase along with population growth due to programming and investment decisions that meet the quality of life needs for modern demographics
Performance is measured by comparing the growth in park usage to the population growth in Manitoba, where the population growth is established as the Target. If the two values are the same, or the park usage growth percentage is higher, it is assumed that new users (e.g., new Manitobans, younger demographic) are using our parks, along with the portion of the population that has already established park use in their lives. If the percentage is between zero percent and the target, then a yellow situation is occurring. A yellow situation assumes that parks programming is not relevant to new users, but existing park users are continuing to use our parks. If the percentage is a negative value, then a red situation is occurring, which is an overall reduction in park usage.
The index is represented by a percentage of Program Use Growth, which is determined by looking at the percentage growth of Provincial Park Visitors (e.g., day users, campers and cottagers) and the percentage growth of Total Campground Occupancy (campers), and combining the two at an equal 50 percent relevance weight.
In the context of this measure, the expectation is to ensure program growth is equal to or more than the population growth in Manitoba. Over the two-year period of review, program use growth has exceeded expectations. Parks usage is very reliant on environmental factors that are out of programming control. There are years over the past ten-year period, where parks usage has declined due to significant weather events (e.g., major floods closing campgrounds and access to recreational areas) or overall poor seasons with lots of precipitation and limited warm and sunny days.
A better way to measure performance is by looking at park user experiences. The complexity in environmental variables when measuring usage, does not necessarily apply when measuring experiences. The volume of usage is not directly correlated with the quality of experience when using parks, because people may very much enjoy their time in parks during a short, rainy season, as long as those limited warm and sunny days are well experienced. Moving forward, new measures for evaluating parks experience will be included in the evaluation as a separate measure.
Measuring experiences will also improve the goal of ensuring parks programming evolves alongside modern demographics. Given that most growth occurs in large urban centers, we want to increase tourism by adding experiences and opportunities that will ensure Manitobans are driven to leave urban areas and explore our provincial parks.
The unparalleled natural areas in Manitoba are rich with beauty, history and culture. We need to ensure all Manitobans can find their place in our natural areas and that these areas can promote and facilitate a positive impact on quality of life. Manitoba’s natural areas are one of our best assets in terms of providing recreational opportunities and defining our heritage as a province.
The vehicle counting methods have evolved over the years, but they still rely on a large volume of estimated figures. The methods also facilitate large margins of error, and this reduces confidence in the numbers collected.
To achieve goals in measuring Park Experience, new data will need to be collected. Developing a detailed user survey with a supporting program for ongoing analysis will facilitate the ability to understand and measure the experiences of park users. Current discussions with Travel Manitoba are exploring opportunities to work collaboratively on collecting user experience data. This information will not only help the Manitoba government create a new performance indicator, but also help with ongoing and future programming and investment decisions.