Hudson and Braedan Turcotte from Red Deer try fencing at last year’s XPlore Sport Day. The city says participation in sports remains strong. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Participation down in organized sports, but not in Red Deer

A report shows a decline in participation in organized sports, but it’s a trend that’s not being experienced in Red Deer.

The province attributes the lower numbers to personal lifestyle choices, available leisure time and challenging economic conditions in the province.

A report by Alberta Culture and Tourism shows a 24 per cent participation rate for adults and 60.4 per cent for children. These numbers are one and 4.6 per cent lower than their respective targets for 2018-19.

Although the City of Red Deer did not provide concrete numbers, the trends do not support a dip in participation in the city, says recreational superintendent Barb McKee.

“Local sport organizations report their numbers to us and we’re not seeing that decline with the information they provided in 2018,” said McKee.

The City of Red Deer provides grassroots entry-level activites, while sport organizations lead competitive sports.

The numbers are stable for rink rentals and pool rental times, says McKee.

“When I take a look at ice use, sports fields or pool use (in the city), numbers are holding their own, or in some cases, increasing.”

Other sports such as pickleball are spiking upward, McKee said, adding the city just opened new courts at Motorworks Field, next to St. Joseph High School.

She noted pickleball club membership in Red Deer jumped from 250 last year to 315 this year.

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Recreational climbing numbers are declining in the city, but that doesn’t mean people are not participating. It just means the city has competition in the market, McKee said, adding people are using the services of a local business instead.

She noted many Red Deer events such as Woody’s Triathlon and the 2019 Canada Winter Games earlier this year have exposed Red Deerians to sports and recreation.

“It’s quite typical after an Olympic year to see an upswing in growth in sport and interest in registrations. So we would anticipate to see that in winter sports,” she said.

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