Benefits of Aligning Recreation and Sport

Cooperation and joint action between recreation services and sport groups can lead to programs developing physical literacy and encouraging Canadians to be active for life.

Whether it’s programs that support physical literacy for children, greater opportunities for adults and seniors to pursue lifelong physical activity and wellness, or innovative approaches to facility usage, each sector recognizes that the others have something unique to offer, making the collective stronger and more positive for everyone in the community.

Community Benefits:

  • Ongoing Sport Play: Municipalities are generally careful not to compete with community sport groups by providing similar participation programs. However, they will offer opportunities for those who wish to enjoy a sport outside of the sports system, or who have been excluded by sports not operating within the CS4L model. Examples of this are drop-in basketball for youth not involved in school programs, after-school programs at recreation centres and schools that include team sport and other activities, and programs aimed at skill development and play for young females who feel uncomfortable in a competitive environment.
  • Increased Communication: Municipalities commonly assign staff to act in a liaison role with all types of sport groups. The major liaison areas are with field sport, aquatic, and ice sport groups. The liaison staff will keep in touch with the groups, have them participate in seasonal scheduling sessions, and resolve issues and opportunities throughout the year. A growing number of municipalities have encouraged the development of sports councils to enhance coordination and joint advocacy among sport groups.
  • Enhanced Coaching Capability: A number of municipalities have supported the provision of National Coaching Certification Programs (NCCP) offered by the Coaching Association of Canada for local coaches.
  • Allocation Policies and Subsidies: Municipalities commonly have allocation policies and fee schedules favouring community volunteer organizations over private or commercial organizations in terms of booking priority and rates. The highest subsidization levels for fees are generally for local minor age groups. This means local taxpayers subsidize community sport use. For example, ice groups pay far more when renting time from commercial arena operations. In most cases, the allocation of municipal facilities will involve the input and participation of involved community sport organizations at allocation meetings.
  • Joint-use Agreements with School Districts: Municipalities commonly develop joint-use agreements with school districts, allowing mutual uses of facilities and opportunities for sport group use of schools. The trend with these agreements has been to broaden them to include joint facility development and joint programming within “partnership agreements”.  
  • Sport Hosting: Municipal governments are a key member of community sport hosting committees. They work with sport, tourism, and business organizations to both secure and support events. Municipal politicians are involved in bid solicitation, parks and recreation departments as venue hosts, and police in crowd and traffic control when required.

Key benefits in other community sectors:


  • Higher individual self esteem
  • Improved health and motivation, and lower absenteeism
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Better academic performance

Recreation Services

  • Broader reach of programming
  • Expanded facility use
  • Lifelong participation in active living

Sport Organizations

  • Higher participation levels and longer retention of athletes
  • Stronger volunteer base
  • Enhanced performance of athletes

By aligning their programming, schools, recreation and sport groups can address three important areas: