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A significant barrier for the participation and retention of girls, women and gender diverse people in recreational sport is access to recreation facilities in their communities. Traditionally, and still today, prime time slots (e.g., ice time) as well as prime facilities (e.g., best fields) are often given to sport programs for men and boys. Community sport and recreation practitioners have indicated a need for tools that would assist them in changing these practices.

Another barrier to girls’, women’s, and gender diverse people’s participation and retention in recreational sport programs is the design of the facilities. Understanding how to improve facilities to ensure that the elements that are valued by these groups are made priorities in the design and maintenance will help toward ensuring that they will be more inclined to participate in recreational sport opportunities. 

To date, CPRA has conducted a literature review and environmental scan related to the topics of facility use and design, interviewed 39 “key informants” and surveyed over 200 recreation practitioners. What was identified, in order to address the issue, was the development of training and tools in four areas:

      ·        leadership (ensuring there are more women in leadership positions in order that their perspective influences decisions);

      ·        organizational culture change (looking at different aspects within an organization that rely on historical practices and are discriminatory);

      ·        community engagement (providing information and skill-building to seek input from girls, women and gender diverse people); and

      ·        evaluation (ensuring practitioners have the skills to monitor what is happening in their facilities/communities and evaluate their efforts moving forward). 

We need your help!

To support each of these four areas, we would like to know more about what is currently happening in communities across Canada to ensure women, girls, and gender diverse people have access to equitable facility use and spaces that are designed to ensure they feel safe, welcome and provide a sense of belonging.

If your organization is addressing the issue of gender equity through facility use and/or design, we invite you to send us some information about your work that we can consider using for the purposes of sharing with and training others.

There are three ways to participate:

      1.      Please attach any resources* that focus on any of the four topics identified above (women in leadership roles; organizational culture change; community engagement and evaluation) as well as any resources that, specifically, focus on facility use and design.

*Resources can be comprised of programs, practices, and policies.

Send your resource(s) via email to

      2.      Go to CPRA’s The Bench and upload your resource to the Discussion Group titled “Gender Equity in Recreation, Sport and Physical Activity”. Please note: if you are not currently a member of The Bench, you will have to register (free). The good news is that you will, then, have access to all shared resources and ongoing discussions on this topic.

      3.      If you are aware of other organizations, municipalities, recreation / sport centres that are doing this work, please email Christa with the name of the organization and/or municipality so that we can follow-up with them directly.

Name of person/organization:
Type of initiative (if known):

Thank you for your support.

Project Team

Christa Costas-Bradstreet                            Nancy Dubois