SFU Recreation Study cover 2014The FMCBC went through its Strategic Planning process in 2011-2012 to help us define and confirm our unique role amongst outdoor recreation clubs and conservation organizations.  The FMCBC determined that our main role is to be an advocate on behalf of non-motorized backcountry recreation users.  Protecting non-motorized backcountry recreation activities, access and interests is the FMCBC’s number one goal.

To achieve this goal the FMCBC set out a list of objectives including the formation of an Advocacy Committee which would represent non-motorized backcountry recreation users across the province.  The members of the committee recommended that the FMCBC start by developing an Advocacy Toolkit which could be used by the committee and FMCBC’s member clubs to advocate on behalf of non-motorized backcountry recreation users. The committee decided that the first piece needed in order to develop the toolkit would be some strong background research which would determine and quantify the following:

  1. The economic impact of non-motorized recreation in the backcountry, including the impacts of hiking, mountaineering and other backcountry activities on recreational tourism.
  2. The size of the non-motorized backcountry community in British Columbia.
  3. The health benefits derived from active participation in hiking, mountaineering and other non-motorized backcountry activities.

In 2012, the FMCBC hired Professor Wolfgang Haider from Simon Fraser University to conduct province-wide research on these three topics.  The FMCBC received grant funding from Mountain Equipment Co-op to make this research possible.

Members of the Advocacy Committee worked with Dr. Haider and masters student, Steven Kux, to refine the project parameters in order that it would provide the data needed by the FMCBC, but at the same time be unbiased and defensible.  It was decided that an online Mountain Recreation Survey would be developed to gather data from across BC.  FMCBC members were also encouraged to complete the survey, but survey answers were kept separate from the original survey answers.

The results of the survey are presented in the Non-Motorized Outdoor Recreation in British Columbia in 2012:  Participation and Economic Contributions report. These results demonstrate that non-motorized outdoor recreation users contribute significantly to the economy of BC.  Conservative estimates suggest that residents of the province collectively traveled more than 1.3 billion km to engage in non-motorized outdoor recreation in the year 2012, and that the direct economic contributions of their participation topped $3.5 billion.

Health Benefits cover 2014Dr. Haider conducted a separate literature review on the health benefits of non-motorized backcountry recreation.  In his report Health Benefits of Non-Motorized Outdoor Recreation: A Summary of Published Findings, there is strong evidence which shows that a person’s physical health can be improved by participating in outdoor recreation.

The FMCBC would like to acknowledge Mountain Equipment Co-op for their ongoing support of the FMCBC and for the funding provided to allow us to improve and grow our organization over the past three years.