Strategic & Service Plans

City of Toronto Sport Plan

City of Sport sport plan featuring a gymnast, a senior male pickleball player, a female wheelchair tennis player and a basketball coach with her young players in front of iconic Toronto landmarks

The City of Toronto, in collaboration with the Toronto Sports Council, is developing a Sport Plan that will guide the planning and delivery of City recreational sport programs and services over the next five years.

Our vision is to ensure that every Torontonian has better access to quality sport programs and opportunities in their community.

Our vision is to ensure that every Torontonian has better access to quality sport programs and opportunities in their community through the following objectives:

Support the Quality of Community Recreation Sport Programs

Through the Community Recreation Branch of Parks, Forestry, and Recreation, the City of Toronto is one of the largest recreational-sport program providers in Toronto. We work to provide residents with quality sport programs that are consistent across the City, while being relevant by responding to community needs and interests.

Strengthen Toronto’s Community Sport Network

Parks, Forestry, and Recreation delivers many hours of community sport programs each year, but we are only one partner in Toronto’s recreational-sport network. Working together, we will build the capacity of community sport organizations and program providers.

Increase Awareness of Sport-Related Opportunities

We will look for the best way to inform and engage residents about sport-related programs and opportunities in their community. Increased awareness of these opportunities will make it easier for residents to participate in recreational sport.

Increase Participation in Recreational Sport

Different communities face different barriers to participation in recreational sport. The Sport Plan aims to increase participation in sport by all residents in general, but we will also direct efforts to developing strategies that make it easier for people in under-served communities to participate.


Community engagement will be an integral element of the plan development process. Consultation enables us to be open and responsive to residents and stakeholder interests, as well as to ensure the relevancy of the Sport Plan recommendations to these interests.


The consultation process for the City of Toronto Sport Plan will be driven by the principles laid out in PFR's Community Engagement Framework.

  • Integrity: We will demonstrate respect for stakeholder needs and the process of community engagement.
  • Access and inclusion: We recognize and will work to overcome barriers to community engagement.
  • Transparency: We will be forthcoming about processes and outcomes.
  • Quality: We will apply the right methods and appropriate resources to ensure effectiveness.
  • Accountability: We will apply the findings of community engagement to decision-making.
  • Consistency and coordination: We will work with Divisional and City partners to follow applicable policies and best practices.

Key Audiences

The Sport Plan Engagement Strategy anticipates four key audiences who will have an interest in the Sport Plan and whose perspectives will contribute to the plan development:

  • The public (e.g. residents who participate in recreational sport regardless of the organization delivering the program, as well as non-participants)
  • Stakeholder organizations that deliver recreational sport programs or advocate for sport participation (e.g. community sport organizations, leagues, school boards, YMCA, corporate partners, etc.)
  • City staff (e.g. Parks Forestry and Recreation staff and leadership from other Divisions)
  • City Council

Consultation Activities

The plan development process includes a variety of consultation activities, each geared towards one of the above key stakeholder groups. Consultations will take place from October 2016 to February 2017.

  • From November 5 to 30, City staff will host pop up consultations at fourteen busy locations across the city. Take a few minutes to tell us what you think in person. See schedule for details on where and when.
  • A stakeholder survey will be conducted from October to the end of December and will be followed by a stakeholder focus groups on 19 November at the Toronto Sport Summit. Additional stakeholder focus groups and interviews will be held during the month of January.
  • A staff survey will be conducted from October to the end of December and will be followed by staff focus groups in January and February.
  • The Sport Plan Reference Group, comprised of key service partners that deliver recreational sport programs in Toronto, will review the consultation and research findings to guide the final stages of the Sport Plan development (January to March).
  • A series of focus groups will be held in January and February to explore how best to improve access to and participation in recreational sport by equity-seeking groups. See the schedule for details of focus group times, locations and themes.

What do we mean by recreational sport?

Working Definition of Sport

For the purposes of the Sport Plan, a sport is an activity which is based in physical athleticism; there is a rule system or set of customs in play that supports the possibility of competition in this activity.

While some learn-to programs (i.e. swim, skate, fundamental movement skills, physical literacy) are not in themselves sport programs, they are essential to developing the skills necessary to participate in certain sports will be addressed as sport foundation programs in the Sport Plan.

Fitness programs (i.e. yoga) and sports adapted for purely fitness purposes (i.e cardio-kickboxing) will not be addressed in the Sport Plan.

Recreational sport programs and opportunities

The Sport Plan will focus on community-sport programs and opportunities. This includes:

  • Introductory and intermediate instructional programs (i.e. Learn-to-Play programs)
  • Recreational house leagues
  • Opportunities for unstructured play (i.e. drop-in programs)
  • Local sport events and tournaments

Recreational Sport Providers

Some examples of the organizations that make up Toronto's community-sport network include:

  • City of Toronto, i.e. Parks, Forestry and Recreation (PFR)
  • Multi-service providers such as the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs
  • Cultural and faith-based organizations
  • Not-for-profit community sports organizations
  • Residents (i.e. private permitting of sport facilities, pick-up games)

Why is recreational sport important to Toronto?

Recreational sport creates opportunities for residents to gain the recognized health benefits of physical activity by:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain cancers
  • Combatting obesity and osteoporosis while fostering the development of healthy muscles, bones and joints as well as increasing strength and endurance
  • Contributing to mental health by protecting against stress and anxiety as well as reducing depression
  • Participating in recreational sport also has potential social benefits for individuals and communities by:
  • Creating opportunities for social inclusion
  • Helping people develop social networks and reduce social isolation, loneliness and alienation
  • Building self-esteem and positive self-image, which are foundations to personal quality of life

Why does Toronto need a Sport Plan?

Toronto is Canada's largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. Ensuring that residents have opportunities to participate is important as recreational sport contributes to the well-being of Toronto residents and communities.

In 2015, Parks, Forestry and Recreation delivered over 45,000 sport-related registered programs to almost 300,000 residents, as well as 250,000 hours of sport-related drop-in programs. The Division is also responsible for the operating of 676 sports fields, 160 baseball and softball diamonds, over 120 tennis courts, 136 community centres, 40 arenas, 52 outdoor artificial ice rinks, and 65 indoor and 57 outdoor swimming pools. These facilities provide residents opportunities to participate in recreational sport both through our sport programs and through permitting to other organizations that deliver programs.

Developing plans for different aspects of our work that are based on current research and informed by public feedback is important. It helps us to understand what the needs are, set priorities, allocate resources and make sure that everyone involved is working toward the same goals.

Since 2013, our Recreation Service Plan has successfully guided PFR programming. It established quality, equitable access, inclusion and capacity building as the principles that guide our decisions. The Sport Plan will build upon the work of the Recreation Service Plan and incorporate these principles in relation to the delivery of City recreational sport programs and services.

Why is the Sport Plan needed now?

There are several reasons why now is the moment for a City of Toronto Sport Plan; including,

  1. The Sport Plan was initiated by a request by the Toronto Sports Council to City Council, as well as:
  2. The Sport Plan will build upon the successes of the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games by investigating strategies to sustain and maximize the Games legacies.
    • The Games generated increased interest in sport at all levels
    • Toronto is now home to new world-class sport and athletic facilities, for example: the Etobicoke Olympium, the Toronto Track and Field Centre, and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre
    • We have a large body of enthusiastic and trained sport volunteers who are looking for their next role
    • Several innovative sport programs were established through the Host City Showcase Program, for example: Let’s Get Coaching! provided no-cost, National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) training to almost 2000 community-level coaches; and Ready, Set, PLAY! a new children’s physical literacy and fundamental movement skills program that launched in over 80 community centres this fall
  3. As Toronto grows and changes, the recreation needs of residents also change. The Sport Plan will prepare us to respond to changes and trends in recreational sport. Recently PFR, at the direction of City Council, has created several specific-sport plans related to tennis, skateboarding, and basketball. These plans resulted from increased resident interest and demand in these specific sports. The Sport Plan will align these sport-specific plans and prepare us to respond to changes in demand for all sports more effectively.
  4. The Sport Plan compliments other ongoing work of PFR such as Facilities Master Plan that will direct investment in parks and recreation facilities over the next 20 years. Together, the Sport Plan and Facilities Master Plan are working to ensure that we do the best to meet resident recreational needs and interests both today and tomorrow.

How will we develop the Sport Plan?

The Sport Plan will be developed by determining what needs done to provide residents with quality opportunities to participate in recreational sport and how this can best be accomplished. It will be based upon many considerations and contributions, including:

  • Environmental Scan: We will look at what programs and services PFR currently offers, to who, and where, including program utilization rates, This includes an analysis of what we are doing well and where we can make improvements.
  • Demographic Forecasts: We will consider, not just who is living in Toronto today, but also who we anticipate will be living here five years from now. This will help us plan for the future sport needs and interests of residents.
  • Review of Best Practices: We can learn from what other municipalities and sport program providers are doing well—what successes they have had and how they achieved them.
  • Literature Review: We will look at how the work of experts in the fields of sport and physical activity can contribute to the Sport Plan. We will determine how these contributions can help us make our services better, both in terms of the quality and impact of our services.
  • Consultation with other City Divisions, Partners and Stakeholders: Our partners will share their knowledge of community needs as well as their current programs and services. This is an important step to ensuring that we provide residents with the services they need in the most efficient way possible; we serve residents better when we work together.
  • Resident Engagement: We will be consulting residents about their priorities, needs and interests. Your involvement is important to creating a dynamic and innovative Sport Plan that addresses the needs and interests of Toronto residents.