Parks and Recreation Ontario’s Awards Program recognizes and honours the achievements of people and organizations that contribute to the advancement of parks and recreation to enhance quality of life. These highly coveted provincial awards include recognition for communities, individuals, students and agencies.  

Parks and Recreation Ontario has suspended its Awards of Excellence, HIGH FIVE Awards program, and Academic Awards until 2022. Keep an eye on this page for updates.

Awards of Distinction


This award recognizes exceptional contributions or a long-term commitment to the advancement of parks and recreation in Ontario. Recipients are determined through an internal process by the PRO Board of Directors.

Awards of Excellence

Excellence is exemplified by quality, integrity and distinction that are above and beyond the norm. The PRO Awards of Excellence mark inspired, innovative, high quality projects, initiatives and leadership. Two streams of awards are available, one for communities with populations under 30,000 and one for those with over 30,000. One award and up to four honourable mentions will be presented in each of the two streams. Applicants for an Award of Excellence must be nominated by a PRO Member.


This award is presented for completed projects that demonstrate excellence in the design for non-aquatics* recreational facilities and parks intended for public use. Excellence is evident in the way in which the need for the park or facility was determined and how the design responded to that community need. The design is a model that promotes uniqueness, innovation, creativity and displays a high degree of design quality for recreation usage. Both new builds and retrofits qualify for this award.

*The applications for aquatic recreation facilities are closed and will re-open early fall of 2020. The awards are presented annually at the PRO Aquatics Conference.


Within the park or facility, a multitude of activities occur including programs, special events, marketing, evaluation, research, human resource management and more. This award serves to recognize excellence in one of the many aspects of daily, short- and long-term operations which serve to more efficiently and effectively meet a community’s needs.


The Affordable Access to Recreation Policy Framework was endorsed by Parks and Recreation Ontario and is being used by communities to enhance equitable access to recreation. This award recognizes individuals, groups, organizations and/or municipalities that have embraced the vision and objectives of the Framework and/or those individuals that are champions and advocates for affordable access to parks and recreation services. Improving access to recreation for marginalized populations through policy, programs/services, partnerships, infrastructure and/or funding is a proven and tangible outcome for award recipients. Marginalized populations would include persons with disabilities, varying cultures, First Nations, the LGBTQ community and any other groups as defined but not limited to the human rights legislation.

This award recognizes the outstanding achievements and accomplishments of a professional in the early stages of his/her career as a leader, instructor, supervisor, administrator, consultant, or a combination of these in the field of parks and recreation. Applicants must have a minimum of five and maximum of 10 years full-time employment in the sector and may apply at any stage in life. The candidate will have the qualities and skills needed to hold a leadership position in the public, private or not-for-profit sector.

NOTE: The PRO Awards Program has been suspended until 2022


Applicants for a HIGH FIVE Award must be nominated by a PRO Member.


The HIGH FIVE Champion Award is presented to an individual who has shown exceptional dedication to the HIGH FIVE principles, and who has inspired and supported their implementation. The Award recognizes the impact of the individual’s work and honours their commitment to ensuring the well-being of children. Applications and nominations should demonstrate the superior achievements of the individual in all four areas of the HIGH FIVE framework: training and development; program assessment; policies and procedures; and awareness.


The HIGH FIVE Champion Award recognizes organizations that are implementing the HIGH FIVE Quality Standard in a unique and innovative way. The Award honours their dedication to children’s health and their efforts to ensure quality programming. Applications and nominations should demonstrate how HIGH FIVE has been implemented at all levels of the organization, demonstrating a cultural shift and child-focused approach to developing and delivering children’s programs.


NOTE: The PRO Awards Program has been suspended until 2022

Academic Awards

Applicants for Student and Academic Awards must be nominated by or be a PRO Member.


Established in honour of the late Bob Secord, known to the sector as “Mr. Recreation,” PRO recognizes one college and one university student enrolled in their final year of full-time or part-time study in a recreation-related course of study. Recipients will have demonstrated positive attributes and leadership skills in the parks and recreation sector through their academic, employment, voluntary pursuits and/or involvement with PRO. Recipients receive a full registration to the 2020 PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show and a complimentary one-year PRO membership.


Any Ontario post-secondary institution offering programs related to recreation, parks, and leisure is eligible to nominate one student per year who has contributed to recreation and/or parks services through academic studies and through school and community involvement. Faculty members are encouraged to present the recipient student with their Certificate and a one-year PRO membership at an appropriate event at their college or university.



This annual monetary bursary is awarded to a promising female parks and recreation post-secondary or post-graduate student or practitioner in Ontario to pursue professional development or their education. This Bursary is funded by the City of Toronto: Parks, Forestry and Recreation Division.

Application Deadline: November 25, 2019

Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA) Awards

As a member of CPRA, PRO invites nominations from its membership to be considered to receive one of the following awards. Any nominations awarded are presented as part of Parks and Recreation Ontario’s annual Awards Ceremony


This bursary assists parks and recreation professionals financially in the pursuit of professional development in the sector. Harry was a Parks Supervisor for the City of Calgary, CPRA Board Member and long-time supporter of that organization. Harry believed in the need for actions that support the continued development of the field and this bursary of $1,000 for up to two recipients annually supports his vision and dedication. Applicants must have a minimum of five-years’ experience and be currently working full-time in the sector. Applications are available online at

Nominations for the CPRA Award of Merit, President’s Award of Distinction and Partnership Award are made by Parks and Recreation Ontario. For more information on these awards, please email


This award recognizes an individual/organization/corporation for an outstanding contribution to achievements in each province and territory. The nominee will have contributed to a municipal, regional or provincial success that has national implications in the sector. This achievement will have contributed to the advancement of parks and recreation regionally and nationally.


Individuals who have shown exceptional contributions or long-term commitment towards the advancement the parks and recreation agenda on a national level will be considered for this award. A recipient of this award will have shown excellent leadership and long-lasting dedication to the parks and recreation sector on a national scale.


A national or provincial sector partner that has exhibited excellence in collaboration, creativity, and innovation and that has enriched individual health and community well-being and enhances the parks and recreation community in Canada will be considered for this award.

If you have any questions, please contact or call 416-426-7142.