Spokes Canterbury (Inc.)
Oral Submission on the Draft Ashburton District Council Play, Active Recreation and Sport Strategy.
As presented by video conference by our Chair, Don Babe on 8 June 2022
Good morning Mayor, Councillors and Staff.
Spokes written submission was centred around the transport to and from particularly organised play, active recreation and sport. Part of this comment is aimed at the irony of people driving their motor vehicles to partake in exercise activities but it goes further. The availability of active transport to and from facilities means that children can be independent at a younger age. This removes an important barrier to participation, namely parental time to do the ferrying.
I have seen children as young as 7 years old that are able to be independent where facilities and routes are well designed so access is safe. Many say our children are not ready for it at that age but some overseas countries have children as young as six getting around towns unaided. These children have just as many eyes, ears and logical connections as our children so don’t say it can not be done.
Ashburton has one of the best independent play facilities I have seen in the skate park. Unfortunately it is bound by very busy roads so some attention does need to be given to the access issue.
Your policy has a lot of focus on organised sports clubs and rightly so, the outcomes the volunteers in these organisations achieve can not be overstated.
However, sport and activity is evolving. For example, I was cycling on a cycle path a few years ago and went past a group of 4 or 5 ten year old children just hanging out around this section with a tricky bit to get through. They were still there when I returned a couple of hours later. I don’t know how much time they had spent trying the section out and how much was just chatting but I thought it was at least as beneficial as an organised bit of sport for these youngsters.
This was likely spontaneous play and I think your policy has to include the opportunities for these to develop. This is where this policy may have to cross over into other policies such as your active
transport policy and your parks and reserves work.
Lastly, I notice your population is following national trends, getting older and more diverse. Some other cultures value their “Third Space” a lot more than we do and I think there are great benefits from this.
The Third Space is where they go that is not work or home. For some it was the pub and for others it is a sports club. In Hong Kong, for example, it is a space where they can go and do some jogging or Tai Chi with others. These activities are also not particularly organised, they just start off with a few people turning up but become more popular and friendships can develop. This fills the social needs of people as they age and miss the associations they were involved in through their children.
Many of the activities suggested here have very low barriers to entry, a bike, a skateboard or some running shoes so provide opportunities for those with less resources available.
In conclusion, yes do all you can to help your organised sport and leisure clubs but also provide facilities for those that get their activity differently. And make them all easily accessible by active transport with safe and secure facilities for parking.