Levy-funded Access Pass to reduce cost as a barrier for PP&R programs

News Article
Parks Local Option Levy provides financial assistance to recreation and Environmental Education programs regardless of income level.
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(Portland, OR) –

Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) announces the Bureau’s new financial assistance program, designed to reduce cost as a barrier and to allow for easier access to participate in PP&R offerings. PP&R debuts its new Access Pass for activities, programs, and passes to be used for programs beginning October 3, 2022. This effort builds on prior Bureau pilot discount efforts, such as the “Pay What You Can” option, which remains in place until October 3 of this year. 

Photo: A group of people of many ages and abilities at a PP&R community center gymnasium, many with arms outstretched.
Photo: A group of people of many ages and abilities at a PP&R community center.

The Access Pass is made possible by the Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy) which voters approved in November 2020. The program allows all City of Portland residents, regardless of their financial means, to receive reduced pricing up to 90% on Portland Parks & Recreation programs and admissions offered by PP&R’s Recreation and Environmental Education departments. These include all PP&R community center and pool passes, drop-in admissions, registered activities, personal training, educational preschool, and afterschool programs.  

“Recreation is for everyone, and we will not let cost can be a barrier to taking part in all our parks system has to offer,” says Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “The Access Pass allows every Portlander to participate in exercise, arts and craft endeavors, classes, camps, and more to enhance their physical and mental well-being. This is a proud moment for our City, and our continued thanks go to Portland voters for their approval of the Parks Local Option Levy which makes this effort possible.” 

The Access Pass program is a result of extensive input from the public, customers, and PP&R staff, using data from past pilot programs. 

The pass is valid for 12 months from the date of enrollment. No proof of income is required. 

“With resources from the Parks Local Option Levy we can offer significant discounts for Portland residents and their families to take part in everything PP&R offers,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “The need for parks and recreation to enhance people’s lives and health has never been more clear, and we’re removing cost as a barrier to participation.” 

About Portland Parks & Recreation’s work to provide Recreation for All: 

In November 2020, Portland voters approved the Parks Local Option Levy. Levy funds allow, among other benefits, Portland Parks & Recreation to remove financial barriers for low-income households. The Levy ends the Bureau’s former dependence on fee revenues for operations, allowing an equity-focused delivery of community events and programs and reducing the likelihood of further cuts to recreation offerings. 

Parks Levy funding allows for PP&R to maintain neighborhood parks appropriately, improve access and safety, provide equitable recreation programs, and proactively care for its natural areas and urban forest. We are working towards increasing access to park and recreation services to diverse populations including communities of color, seniors, teens, households experiencing poverty, immigrants and refugees, and people living with disabilities; and to prevent cuts to recreation programs, closures of community centers and pools. After a year of piloting two financial assistance programs (Pay What You Can for registered activities, and the Access Discount for passes and drop-in admission) PP&R will move to a combined Access Pass model for fall activities, programs, and passes beginning October 3.  

Additionally, the services and programs funded by the Levy include the delivery of recreational programs, such as environmental education and access to nature for youth, summer camps, family-friendly movies and concerts, fitness and arts classes, teen- and senior-focused programs, life-saving swim lessons, and the Summer Free For All Lunch + Play program, which provides free lunches to young people. 

About the Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy)

As promised in the November 2020 Voter Pamphlet, Parks Levy funds will:

  • Enhance and preserve parks, rivers, wetlands, trees, and other important natural features in urban areas for the benefit of all Portlanders and wildlife;
  • Provide park and recreation services to diverse populations including communities of color, seniors, teens, households experiencing poverty, immigrants and refugees, and people living with disabilities;
  • Increase opportunities for communities of color and children experiencing poverty to connect with nature;
  • Prevent cuts to recreation programs, closures of community centers and pools; and
  • Enhance park maintenance to keep parks clean and safe, including litter and hazardous waste removal, restroom cleaning, and playground safety.

The services and programs to be funded by this measure are planned to include, but are not limited to:

  • Protect water quality and wildlife habitat, control erosion, remove invasive species in 8,000 acres of natural area.
  • Deliver recreational programs, including, but not limited to, environmental education and access to nature for youth, summer camps, family-friendly movies and concerts, fitness and arts classes, teen- and senior-focused programs, life-saving swim lessons, and a summer playground program serving free lunches to children experiencing hunger.
  • Remove financial barriers for low-income households by ending current dependence on recreation fee revenues, allowing an equity-focused delivery of community events and programs and reducing the likelihood of further cuts to recreation offerings.
  • Clean litter and hazardous waste in parks and natural areas, maintain grounds and landscaping, provide safety checks on play equipment, improve preventative and traditional maintenance.
  • Keep public restrooms open and cleaner.
  • Plant new trees in communities where today canopy coverage is lower, to improve air and water quality, diminish the impacts of climate change, and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Protect Portland’s 1.2 million park trees by performing proactive maintenance, safety checks, hazard removal, and replacement of damaged trees in parks and natural areas.
  • Modernize data systems to improve internal efficiency.
  • Prioritize services for communities of color and households experiencing poverty, including equity-centered engagement and outreach, community partnership grants, and increased engagement with volunteer and partner groups.

For more information, visit portland.gov/parks/parks-levy

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