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The Continued Way Forward
A Framework for Recreation in Canada: Pathways to Wellbeing

Message from the Framework Leadership Team
July 2021

It is hard to believe that A Framework for Recreation in Canada: Pathways to Wellbeing was officially launched over five years ago in 2015. At its release, the Framework was viewed as a critical step forward in the municipal parks and recreation sector. It was designed to guide and stimulate coordinated sector policies and practices in Canada that aim to improve the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and the built and natural environments.

When the Framework was launched in 2015, we could never have imagined the far-reaching challenges that the COVID pandemic would create for Canadians and communities. Yet, the five Framework goals resonate more today than ever: Active Living; Inclusion and Access; Connecting People and Nature; Supportive Environments; and Recreation Capacity.

As we recover from a global pandemic, it can be difficult to think of policy when we are thinking of survival. However, in times of crisis, a common compass for the sector is essential. And perhaps without realizing it, we are moving the goals of the Framework ahead even during these difficult times. Looking ahead to the immediate future, we will use the Framework to re-imagine the municipal parks and recreation sector as it plays a critical role in Canada’s post-pandemic recovery. We do this, while recognizing that different parts of the country have experienced the pandemic in different ways.

In the five years since the Framework was endorsed, the implementation has taken countless forms. At the community level, sector professionals have built master plans upon the foundation of the Framework and harnessed the national strategy to advocate for funding to support parks and recreation services. Every day, practitioners across the country advance the Framework goals – you can see just some examples of success stories at the following link: https://thebenchcpra.ca/members/stories-in-the-field.html.

In provinces and territories, Framework implementation is unique to each region. The sector and governments continue to partner together to move the goals forward.

At a national level, the Framework Forum of 2018 allowed for the sector to gather and share success stories and find ways to navigate through the Framework. The creation of a national audit tool allowed communities to measure their own progress on the Framework goals. The building of the Bench has provided an essential platform for the Framework and supporting tools – we encourage you to join today.

CPRA has and will continue to undertake multiple initiatives to move the Framework goals forward including launching a knowledge hub on the social/economic benefits provided by our sector, entering into government partnerships on youth employment programs and gender equity initiatives, the creation of Parks for All and ongoing advocacy for increased infrastructure and program funding for parks and recreation spaces and places. CPRA is also building a strong relationship with the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA), our counterpart in the U.S. CPRA has recently undertaken extensive research and sector engagement to identify the elements of a path forward in a post-pandemic scenario. This initiative, entitled ReImagine RREC, was funded by Sport Canada and aligns closely with the Framework.

The Framework Leadership Team (members include CPRA, PT governments, academics, sector partners) is undertaking a mid-term environmental scan on the Framework and its goals in the context of the new realities we face. We are determining how the Framework can best guide the sector through evolving challenges including the pandemic, systemic racism, and climate resilience. The efforts of the Leadership Team will ensure the Framework remains equally relevant over the next five years, allowing the sector and government to design new tools and approaches that meet the current and evolving challenges. And soon, the sector and government will begin to consider a renewed Framework for 2025, a process that is being mapped out now by the Framework Leadership Team. Of course, these efforts will continue to align with the Canadian Sport Policy and the Common Vision.

Critical milestones such as the five-year anniversary of the Framework offer an important opportunity to look back and reflect. While aspirational planning and strategy documents are always created with the best of intentions, they are far too often left on a shelf collecting dust. Conversely, the Framework has been the foundation of the successful efforts of CPRA and its partner organizations since 2015. Moving ahead, our activities and success will continue to rest upon, and align with, the goals of the Framework. Collaboration amongst the sector is more important than ever to ensure we get Canadians engaged and active again and the Framework provides the foundation for that call to action.

At this moment in time, municipal park and recreation stakeholders across Canada are weary. The effects of the pandemic on our field – from closures, ever-changing regulations, and financial hardships – combined with the mental and physical health challenges that we each face as individuals, parents, and family members, have been significant. Thank you for your ongoing efforts and dedication.

As we move forward together toward a new normal, let us rally around and lean into the Framework to build our sector back better and stronger than ever. Let us use the goals within the Framework to reimagine the parks and recreation sector in the post-pandemic world. I encourage you to consider how the Framework can guide the re-creation of your master plan, the delivery of your recovery programs and the renewal of your community partnerships.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have questions or ideas of how we can best support the sector’s recovery via the Framework.

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