`PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show

PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show

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The PRO Educational Forum and Trade Show is Canada's largest annual national forum for recreation and leisure professionals. Engage with thought leaders, practitioners, and decision-makers on the issues and challenges you face every day, stay on the cutting edge of recreation delivery, research, and policy, and connect with over 500 professionals in the industry at the most anticipated event of the year.

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Program Sessions

Leveraging all your Employees for Social Media Success
Speaker: Eric LeClair, Manager, Communications, Ottawa Public Health

At 55K followers on their French and English Twitter accounts, Ottawa Public Health has one of the largest followings on Twitter of all local public health units in North America, ahead of NYC, Boston, Toronto, LA, even ahead of Public Health Ontario and only slightly behind the nation-wide Public Health Agency of Canada. In this session you will learn how the organization has trained its employees to engage effectively in social media. Since its inception a number of years ago the Social Media policy has the purpose of keeping employees safe when engaging in social media. You will hear how they encourage, train and guide employees to use social media in their daily work.

Using Social Media for Effective Youth Engagement
Speaker: Suzanne Christe, CEO & Co-Founder, Shout Media

Social media engagement strategy must be tailored to the needs of the group you are trying to connect with. For youth engagement, a strong communication strategy identifies content goals and messaging for consistent user experience, focuses on Snapchat and Instagram to advertise to youth on social media, and uses contests, promotions, and gamification to garner interest. A successful youth engagement campaign should also leverage beautiful natural environments and innovative programming to appeal to their desire for novel experiences and content for their social media streams. Most importantly, such campaigns should have strong policies in place for taking and sharing photos of minors. Join this session to learn how to connect with youth on their level.

Social Media Trends—What to Look Out for in the Coming Year and Beyond
Speaker: Camille Dundas, Solutions Consultant, Hootsuite

In a world of rapid change, it is no exaggeration to say that social media is one of the areas that is growing faster and changing more than nearly any other. As a practitioner in the field, a significant part of your role is to be aware of current developments and prepare accordingly. But where can you turn for practical insight into an uncertain future? Hootsuite is a social media relationship platform that allows users to manage multiple networks and profiles, while measuring the impact of campaigns. Their Social Barometer Report benchmarks how businesses around the world use social media, including their preferred social media initiatives, what social networks they use, and their biggest social media challenges. In this session, Camille Dundas will share Hootsuite's latest insights. Learn about what trends are driving digital transformation in government agencies, and three areas governments need to focus on to win at social media in 2019.

Rebranding Recreation: A Journey to Re-Establishing Connections with the Community through a New Look
Speaker: Nina Jakovljevic, Senior Planning Coordinator, Marketing, City of Brampton

For some time, Brampton Recreation did not have a clear process for communicating with the public. Various members of the division would tackle campaigns on their own, sometimes creating confusion. This was addressed through the implementation of a communications process, the rebranding of all visual assets, and a complete overhaul of their website to ensure alignment with user needs and expectations. Learn more about the importance of brand consistency and targeting when marketing recreation. Explore what it means to think like a user and map their journey in order to ensure creative and successful communications campaigns.

Telling and Selling Our Story: Marketing and Branding for Recreation
Speaker: Brenda Herchmer, Principal Collaborator, Campus for Communities

How do recreation, parks and culture staff and volunteers embrace the sometimes overwhelming job of marketing, branding, and social media? As well as promoting our own services, how can we do more to achieve “social good” and advocate for the connections, cooperation, and engagement needed for the individual, community, and environmental wellbeing that is our priority? This session will demystify marketing and give you a stronger understanding of the key role of the benefits of recreation along with a takeaway workbook that will help you implement sound marketing and social media strategies.

Keeping it Real: Using Case-Based Learning in Staff Training
Speaker: Don Marentette, National Director of First Aid Programs, Canadian Red Cross

One of the challenges in medical and health-care related education is finding ways to bring the 'real world' into the classroom. Over the last several years the use of case-based learning has increased as educators strive to better prepare learners for future application through higher-level thinking while still in the classroom. Throughout this activity packed session, the Canadian Red Cross will share how we have deployed case-based learning within our newly released Psychological First Aid program and encourage participants to consider how this exciting method can be applied within their own practice. Discover how case-based learning allows learners to discover and apply a variety of program elements and how this approach could be used in your organization.

Everything is About to Change
Speaker: Doug Griffiths, Instructor, Executive Education, University of Alberta School of Business and President & CEO of 13 Ways

Disruptions have impacted almost every industry, but our communities have remained relatively unchanged in the last 50 years. That will not be the case in the very near future, and simply catching up to today will not work. Technological and social changes will challenge communities, and those who are not prepared for what is coming will not prosper. Doug offers a knowledgeable look at changing technology, global economics, cultural shifts, and what these developments mean for communities and their leadership. You will leave with a better understanding of how to be prepared for tomorrow now, if you want to succeed.

Managing and Financing Park Systems for the Future
Speaker: Leon Younger, President, PROS Consulting, Inc., Indianapolis, IN

This session will focus on the most innovative methods used today by communities to finance elements of acquiring and developing park land and developing and funding recreation facilities. Join Leon Younger to learn how to fund the operations and maintenance of park and recreation systems as they share their unique perspectives as researchers, practitioners, and as consultants to highlight best practices and ways to best serve the public now and for the future.

MATRG: How to Work Together in Recreation for the Lower Tier Communities
Speakers: Mike Richardson, Manager of Recreation Services, Township of Selwyn; Rob Anderson, Manager of Recreation, City of Peterborough

The Municipal Access to Recreation Group (MATRG), founded in 2013, addresses regional thinking; examples of small/rural communities sharing resources or cross-promoting to maximize limited resources. MATRG is comprised of the eight County of Peterborough communities along with the City of Peterborough, Peterborough Public Health and the Council for Persons with Disabilities. Under this initiative, members have been able to initiate programs on nutrition and healthy hydration, training and education for coaches and volunteers in recreation, and successfully apply for funding for recreational programs, equipment, and activities to these communities. Learn more about MATRG, their challenges, successes, and future plans.

The Road to Management in Parks and Recreation
Moderator: Howie Dayton, Director, Community Recreation, City of Toronto; Panel: Leaders from Parks and Recreation Departments

Have you ever wondered what it took for your manager or director to get where they are today? Was it their education? Career experience? Right opportunity at the right time? While all these scenarios may hold some truths, most senior staff have been strategic in identifying their goals, developing skills and making connections, finding a mentor or coach they could work with, and keeping an open mind to leaning, absorbing and being creative along the way. This is your opportunity to hear from those who have lived the journey and who want to share their learnings with those who are looking to move into middle and senior management positions. Bring those questions you’ve been thinking about, but didn’t know who to ask, and leave with a better understanding of what the first steps might be for you to start on your journey to greater heights.

Retaining Contingent Staff: Building Commitment through Job Enrichment and Engagement
Speaker: David Drewery, PhD Candidate, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, University of Waterloo

Talented staff is essential to all leisure service agencies. Staff deliver services, create memorable experiences, and solve problems for clients. Because of the nature of leisure services, many agencies rely on staff that is contingent – part-time, seasonal, and temporary. This poses an issue related to retaining talented staff. In this session, learn about the connection between job enrichment and retention in a sample of contingent leisure service workers and the role of supervisors in enriching the jobs of contingent workers.

We Have to Talk: Conquering Our Fear Over Difficult Conversations
Speaker: Jennie Queen, Portfolio Manager, City of Ottawa

Think of a conversation you have been actively avoiding and putting off. Got it? There is a plethora of difficult, crucial, challenging, fierce, important conversations and an equally great number of resources available to help us navigate these interactions, so what is holding you back? Our ability to harness the power of effective communication through interpersonal skills as leaders is vital to the overall health and well-being of not only ourselves but our colleagues and teams as well. This session will uncover some of the difficult conversations we are currently avoiding and the reasons behind the struggle. We will learn some best practice strategies including a checklist of action items to think about before we enter into the conversation. We will explore some useful concepts to practice during the conversation and suggestions to stay focused and keep the flow going. Remember you can change and shape your work one conversation at a time. So, let's get talking.

Building a Recreation Pricing Philosophy: An Evidence-Based Approach
Speaker: Erin K. Sharpe, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, Allie Milner and Melissa Dexter, Students, Recreation and Leisure Studies, Brock University; Eric Lamothe, Community and Events Supervisor, City of St. Catharines

The City of St. Catharines Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture Services (PRCS) partnered with researchers in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at Brock University to research residents’ perspectives on parks, recreation, and culture services pricing. The goal of the research project was to gather information from residents regarding what people value, and use this information to develop an approach to setting parks, recreation and culture fees that align with the values and perspectives of our residents. Join this session to find out the pricing structure and benefits supported by residents and the implications of these findings on pricing policy development.

Sport Demonstration: Disc Golf, a HOLE New Game, with a Different Spin
Speaker: Christopher Lowcock, Director of Sales and Marketing, Prodigy Canada

Outdoor spaces such as parks, playing fields, and greenbelts are great places for people to walk, meet friends, or just relax. Yet sometimes these spaces look vacant and unoccupied. While golf courses are wonderful community assets, memberships are waning in certain areas. In recent years, Disc Golf has moved into many green spaces, creating opportunities for a fun, low-cost alternative for individuals, groups, and families. Using a hands-on demonstration, the session will introduce you to this sport, showing how it can be adapted to suit different ages and abilities. During this interactive demonstration, participants will also learn what is needed to provide options for active as well as passive users and operational requirements such as layout, design, and equipment needs.

Demonstration: Boccia – A Sport with No Barriers
Speaker: Juliana von Cramon, Program Manager, Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sports Association

Boccia is a Paralympic sport that can be played by anyone, with or without a disability. Similar to the sport of bocce, boccia is a co-ed sport of control and accuracy. Modifications and adaptations enable all players to excel when playing the game, regardless of mobility. Players of all ages and abilities can be part of a team, feel socially included, and make friends. The Ontario Cerebral Palsy Sport Associations’ experience in working with schools, therapy centres, and community organizations has proven that this sport is a great way to engage youth with exceptionalities. The Association has also found a way to align different levels of play with Long Term Athlete Development, enabling participants to move to community clubs for further sport development. This will be a hands-on session so be prepared to learn and practice skills and adaptations that you can incorporate into your programs. Information on resources will be included as part of the presentation.

Our Strength is Our People: Examining Volunteer Social Capital for Community Sport and Recreation
Speakers: Alison Doherty, Professor, Western University; Katie Misener, PhD, Professor, University of Waterloo

Social capital is the trust, reciprocity and shared understanding that may be produced and reproduced when people interact in a meaningful way over time. The generation of social capital can have effects in the broader community. However, it may also be important for organizations to draw on the social energy generated among volunteers working together. Volunteers are critical to the nonprofit organizations that provide sport, physical recreation, and leisure programs and services. For this reason, the social capital developed among volunteers in this sector may be a critical foundation for the achievement of the goals in the Framework for Recreation in Canada. This interactive session shares key findings of a four-phase research project that provides evidence of the nature and extent of social capital among community sport and recreation volunteers, what difference that makes for the volunteers themselves and their organization, and “bonding” and “bridging” social capital among volunteers. Finally, join a moderated discussion that focuses on the implications for effective volunteer management policy and practice that ensures social capital can be generated and used.

Hosting Large Scale Sport Events: Legacies and Lessons Learned
Speaker: Janis Cookson, Manager, Sport Development, and Susan Stiles, Coordinator, Sport Development, City of Markham

What are sport event legacies and what are the best practices related to successfully hosting such events? The benefits of hosting large-scale sport events go far beyond the prestige and attention your community might gain. They often result in short-term economic gains, encourage long-term investment, and have numerous social benefits. In this session, learn the keys to successfully hosting large-scale sports events, how to encourage your community to host more events, and investigate best practices through real-world examples.

Where Have all the Young ‘uns Gone?
Speaker: Doug Griffiths, Instructor, Executive Education, University of Alberta School of Business and President & CEO of 13 Ways

Many rural organizations are feeling the pain of the lack of youth getting involved, and this poses a serious threat to the future health of smaller communities. In this talk, Doug will walk through the issues leading to unengaged youth and he will detail where, when, and how to best engage them. Offering tips on how to do things differently and what is at stake if we do not transition to appeal to youth, this talk offers great take away steps that you can put into action immediately.

Brownfields to Goldfields: Converting Non-productive Industrial Lands Into Valued Park Space
Speaker: Mark Jensen, Director of Community and Development Services, City of Timmins

In this session, learn how a public/private partnership enabled a community to convert hazardous industrial lands into valued public park space. Just adjacent to the City of Timmins’ downtown core lay a 250 acre historical mining site, plagued with surface and subsurface mine hazards which had been fenced off from public access. Through complex approvals and agreements, the City worked with a local mining company to have the property rehabilitated and converted into usable and valued park space for its residents. This session will provide lessons learned and best practice approaches to deal with similar conversions in your own communities.

Hard Choices: Bringing New Life to the Community
Speakers: Bonnie Sackrider, Recreation Director, Town of Kirkland Lake; Scott Bowron, President, Clear Aquatics Sales and Training, Clear Aquatics

Kirkland lake, a typical Northern community struggling with lost business and a falling population chose to help grow the community by believing in recreation and the benefits it has to offer. With enough resources for a new pool and refurbished area, they had to make some tough choices on what was important to maximize benefit to the community while staying within budgetary limitations. This is the norm for many communities, particularly in the north. In this session, learn about the trade-offs you make when investing in recreation, the challenges the community can face, and the kind of options you have.

Thinking Outside the Box to Engage Small Town Ontario
Speakers: Rob Lilbourne Director of Community Services, Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc; Paul Lattimore Supervisor of Recreation, Programs and Community Liaison, Municipality of Strathroy-Caradoc

Engaging small town communities in the province requires innovative thinking. Join the discussion about the benefits of working with service clubs and non-profit organizations, when to lead and when to support with community initiatives, engaging the community for input on municipal projects, leveraging assets/resources to attract residents and business to grow the community, and how to grow your community. Discuss how being creative can do all of the things above without blowing the budget out of the water. This interactive session will guide participants down a path that will help them tap into their own creativity to find solutions for their communities.

Rural Issues: An Elected Officials’ Lens
Speakers: Mayor Alison Warwick, Municipality of Thames Centre; Deputy Mayor Jennifer Coughlin, Township of Springwater

Elected Officials can see the world of parks and recreation from a perspective that is different from the staff one. This session will explore the ‘view from here’ including what they feel is important about these services, what they are doing in their communities to support these services, and what are some of the challenges they face, financially and politically, when the rubber hits the road during budget time. Hear what the presenters feel are important messages you can be sending to garner political support, and bring your questions to gain insight into how you can position parks and recreation to be seen as essential services in your community.

Predicting Trends for an Unpredictable Future
Speaker: Leon Younger, President, PROS Consulting, Inc., Indianapolis, IN

This session will help you predict trends and plan for future shifts in an increasingly unpredictable time. Also, it will share insights for how to build an agency culture and mindset that can innovate and thrive in a changing landscape as parks and recreation agencies look to changes to their communities, policies, park and facility designs, financial sustainability, marketing and communications, partnerships, program delivery, and innovation in general. List key changes and unpredictable future happenings that agencies need to prepare for. Predict future trends based on political, policy, revenue, population, and communication technology shifts. Build an agency and organizational culture to thrive in a changing landscape.

Below the Surface: The Aquatic Lens
Speakers: Gary Sanger, VP Safety Standards, Lifesaving Society, Aquatic Supervisor, City of Toronto; Paul Di Salvo, Safety Audit Services, Lifesaving Society and Manager Healthy Environments, City of Toronto; Joey Rusnak, Aquatic Professional and Founder, Lifeguard Authority

This session will examine what is presently trending in Aquatics. A panel of experts will provide information that will help better serve you in your facilities and communities. We are dealing with an ever-changing aquatic environment. Get the most up to date information on how to keep our patrons safe and our pools accident free. Learn about what legislations and regulations are effecting our operation and how best to deal with them. Leave this session with an understanding about potential liabilities and gender inclusivity.

Facilitated Discussion: Are we Doing Enough about Diversity and Inclusion? The recreation sector serves individuals from diverse backgrounds, but as an industry, are we doing enough to engage all citizens? Are our facilities, workplaces and parks welcoming and inclusive for all? Is the organizational culture an accepting and open one, both for staff and for clients? Are all decisions made with the lens of inclusion? These are just some of the questions that PRO as a provincial association is asking itself and the sector. In this facilitated roundtable discussion, you can have your say on how the sector, and PRO as the provincial body, can foster true inclusivity.

Inclusive Recreation: Creating a Roadmap for Success
Moderator: Diane English, Director of Public Policy and Communications, Parks and Recreation Ontario; Panel: Municipal and non-profit sport and recreation representatives

Creating inclusive and supportive recreation programs can bring great opportunities but it may also present some real challenges for communities trying to meet the needs of families. In this session, hear from a panel of recreation providers and experts on inclusive recreation as they discuss best practices, new ideas, and share how they are addressing the challenges of providing inclusive programs. You’ll learn about how municipalities in Halton and Peel have come together to share their challenges and begin to map solutions. As well, experts in inclusive sport and recreation will share valuable insights on programming and serving patrons of all abilities. Finally, come prepared to share your innovative ideas and some challenges you may be facing. You’ll also hear how you can become involved with ongoing work by Parks and Recreation Ontario to begin to develop service benchmarks for inclusive summer camps, strategies for 1:1 supports and provide specialized training for working with participants with special needs.

Implicit Association at Play: Challenging Our Assumptions in Community Recreation
Speakers: Ainsworth Hamilton, Community Recreation Programmer; Kelvin Seow, Manager, Community Recreation, City of Toronto

Implicit association refers to the unconscious and automatic assumptions we make about others based upon categories such as gender, race, sexual identity, age, weight, and ability. This interactive session will begin by exploring the meaning of implicit association, how it works, and how better understanding this concept can help advance the equality of opportunities and outcomes in community recreation. Participate in a self-assessment and reflection exercise that will help you begin to uncover your own implicit associations and explore relevant examples of implicit association and its effects within the communities we serve and your own organizations. Finally, learn about concrete strategies you can use to address the impact of implicit association and how these strategies can be applied in the specific context of community recreation.

Facilitated Discussion: Municipal Golf Courses
Share the trials and tribulations of operating a golf course. With changing demographics, pricing, and emerging trends in grounds maintenance, there is a lot to talk about! Other topics include volunteer positions/incentive packages, staffing and financial models, pace of play concerns and corrective actions, and year round activities for 6, 9, 12, and 18-hole options. As municipal golf courses are becoming more like business entities of the corporation, come to ask others how they are dealing with the changes, gain insights into different methods of operation, and bring concerns to the table. Share what’s happening on your course and learn more about trends in the field.

Physical Activity: The Single Best ‘Medicine’ for Our Aging Population
Speaker: Professor Stuart M. Phillips, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair and Director, Physical Activity Centre of Excellence, Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University

It is hard not to say that physical activity is a ‘miracle cure.’ Nothing really comes close to physical activity in terms of the numerous benefits it brings. As Canada’s population ages and we turn our attention to healthy aging, physical activity represents the most cost effective, beneficial, and easy to implement solution. People that are physically active are less likely to be socially isolated, have a lower incidence of depression, and have a more extensive social network. So why aren’t more people physically active? In this presentation, learn about what physical activity can do, how it can be implemented, the particular benefits of outdoor physical activity, and how to address barriers to physical activity.

A Facilitated Discussion: Marketing for Municipal Recreation and Parks
The marketing landscape is changing rapidly, and as organizations prepare for growth there will be obvious shifts in capacity, technology, data, staff skill sets, and facility infrastructure. This session will explore these issues through frank and open conversations on topics, such as what are community members want and expect and how to determine this, whether communities are moving to hiring consultants or using in-house talent to create branding and marketing strategies. Join in the conversation to share your experience and to learn what others are doing in the sector. This will be a facilitated discussion for delegates to come prepared to share and ask questions of their peers and others.

Charting Our Future: Contribute to the Development of PRO’s Next Strategic Plan
Panel: Jan Wilson, Board Chair, and Cathy Denyer, CEO, Parks and Recreation Ontario

In this facilitated session, PRO members and interested stakeholders can participate in the development of PRO’s next strategic plan. This is one of a number of touchpoints PRO is using to listen to the sector and proactively respond through a brand new strategic plan. The current Strategic Plan, which wraps up in 2020, is built on three pillars: Policy Leadership, Supporting Wellbeing through Training and Resources, and Quality Standards. PRO Board Chair Jan Wilson and PRO CEO Cathy Denyer, along with a dynamic external consultant, will lead an engaging discussion on the future of PRO and how your professional association is supporting the development of recreation and parks in Ontario and across Canada. This is your chance to become more engaged in this face-to-face session.

Top Trends in Parks and Recreation for 2019
Speaker: Greg A. Weitzel, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Falls, ID

Drones delivering pizza and beer in your parks, Augmented Reality (AR) feeds instead of printed park and rec program mailers, self-driving vehicles in your parks, housing for the homeless built in your parks, cool pavements for your parking lots—they are all coming to parks and recreation and sooner than you think! Come hear some true blue-sky thinking about what is right over the horizon for parks and recreation. What do you think are the most significant new trends facing the field and the industry of parks and recreation in the coming year, and what will it mean to your staff and your agency? Come learn from some true visionary thinkers in the field and share your own ideas on what the future will soon be for parks and recreation.

Pre-Conference Workshop: HIGH FIVE Principles of Healthy Aging This one-day training provides insights into the unique needs of older adults participating in recreation or leisure activities in municipal centers or retirement communities. Learn evidence-based approaches to improving the participant experience using the HIGH FIVE Principles of Healthy Aging. Through experiential learning activities, scenarios and group discussion, participants will gain knowledge, tips and resources to enhance their programs as well as their relationships with participants and other staff members. We’ll discuss ways to avoid ageism in program planning and we’ll provide insights into the importance physical literacy plays in sustained health, increased social connectedness, general mental and physical well-being and quality of life. HIGH FIVE Healthy Aging builds on the current HIGH FIVE national industry standard for children, using best practices and systems already in place to customize a standard for the rapidly advancing demographic of older adults.

Create A Vision for "New Wave" Active Adult Programming
Speaker: Diane Hernden, Mindset Specialist and co-author of the Healthy Zoomer

The third act of our lives is not a period of decline. The new wave of active adults flooding into our community centers are a dynamic, knowledge-thirsty group of individuals hungry for programs that challenge their minds, bodies, and souls. As recreation service providers, we need to re-think the way we deliver recreation programs and activities to our active adults. Diane Hernden, Mindset Specialist and co-author of the Healthy Zoomer will introduce delegates to the idea of dynamic aging, how it should be factored into active adult programming, and shed light on strategies that can be incorporated into your programming to encourage older adults in pursuit of a dynamic aging lifestyle.

Intergenerational Programming: From Strategy to Action
Speakers: Donna Kosior, Program Lead, and Lisa Maychak, Project Manager, Age Friendly City, City of Hamilton; Katelyn Burns, Recreation Coordinator, Grants/Partnerships, and Jesse Williamson, Project Manager, Strategic Youth Initiatives, City of Hamilton

Join the City of Hamilton team as they share insights of integrating the Youth and Age Friendly Strategies into the Recreation Framework for Older Adult Programming. This session will show results of working as a team and putting research into practice to build effective intergenerational programming. Learn about putting consultation into action, youth engagement strategies, best practices for older adult program offerings, intergenerational pilot program results, and how to implement with a volunteer board in place.

A Winning Strategy for the Older Adult Market
Speakers: Jana Ray, Director, Partnership and Audience Development, Canadian Association of Retired Persons; JaimeLynn Jelley, Coordinator, HIGH FIVE Training and Stakeholder Engagement, Parks and Recreation Ontario

It is estimated that older adults will make up 25% of Canada’s population by the year 2031. In this session, learn tools and tips to raise interest and engagement while increasing repeat participation and adherence to programs with this unique and diverse audience.

You Too Can Be a Transformer: Applying a Community Development Approach to Planning
Speaker: Brenda Herchmer, Principal Collaborator, Campus for Communities

How do we know what recreation services, programs and events are most relevant for our community and whether they are maximizing potential for individual, community, and environmental wellbeing? How do we engage citizens in a meaningful and relevant way? Learn from a community development planning framework used in over 60 communities across the country and other resources that have helped transform organizations, neighbourhoods and communities. Respond to the growing desire for increased citizen engagement with a community development approach. In this session, compare the benefits of traditional versus citizen-driven planning strategies and most importantly, learn how to apply a community development approach to delivering recreation, parks, and cultural programs, services, and facilities.

Conflict Into Complement: Leveraging Your Library for Success
Speakers: Rhonda Pogue, Manager, Recreation, Community Engagement and Events, Town of East Gwillimbury; Monika Machacek, Acting CEO, East Gwillimbury Public Library

Parks and recreation often finds itself at odds with library services as a competitor for funds and other resources. However, the Community Parks, Recreation and Culture (CPRC) department in East Gwillimbury has partnered successfully with the East Gwillimbury Library to provide convenient and complimentary services to the community. By working together, these organizations are breaking down the idea that recreation and library services are competitors. This session will provide information on what makes both services unique to the community and how the two together can move mountains and provide the most for the community, while ensuring continued success and growth. Learn about our story, successes, and challenges and participate in a group discussion about how to build a similar relationship in your community.

Partnering with the Business Community: A Community Development Lens
Speakers: Amanda MacDonald, Executive Director, Welland Downtown BIA; Krista Bowie, Community Development and Volunteer Coordinator, City of Welland

In 2017, the City of Welland and the Welland Downtown BIA presented Best Practices of Partnering with the Business Sector. Join this session to learn more about their story and how far their relationship has progressed. Discover how to cut across red-tape, share responsibilities, access alternative funding, develop public-private partnerships, and tap into the business world to increase your community development lens. From special events to non-traditional programming, we'll share with you what's happened with the City of Welland Recreation and Culture Department and the Welland Downtown BIA since our last meeting!

Identifying the Physical Literacy Support Needed by Children with Medical Conditions and Disabilities
Speaker: Pat Longmuir, Scientist, CHEO Research Institute

Children with medical conditions and disabilities often have limited physical literacy, making it less likely that they will participate in community recreation programs. In this session, delve into a recent study that investigated the use of physical literacy screening tasks to identify children who would likely benefit from additional physical literacy support. Tasks such as the wall sit, one leg balance, and running can be incorporated into warm-up or program activities, making it easy to promote inclusion by understanding the physical literacy of participants. Learn about the screening tasks you can use to determine the type of physical literacy support needed to include children with medical conditions and disabilities.

B.R.A.V.E.: Bully Proof Your Environment
Speaker: Carrie Leigh Percival, Co-founder, Bully B.R.A.V.E.

Why us? Most conversations about bullying revolve around an inspiring message: be confident, stand up for others, etc. Rarely do these presentations touch on what to do in the moment when one is a target of bullying behaviors. Bully B.R.A.V.E provides in the moment strategies for students, teachers, and community members when they are faced with conflict and bullying. Join this interactive workshop to learn about the difference between bullying and conflict, explore how we can foster environments that support positive conflict, and how to diffuse a tense situation. Most importantly, discover how to connect with others and how that reduces the potential of conflict.

Camps on TRACKS: A Peer-Mediated Social Skills Program Focusing on Inclusion
Speaker: Ashley Parker, Camps on TRACKS Project Lead, Thames Valley Children's Centre

Camps on TRACKS is a peer-mediated social skills intervention program developed by Thames Valley Children's Centre, Fanshawe College, and the City of London. TRACKS (Try Again, Right Thing, Assist, Congratulate, Keep Trying and Show) provides children at camp with the skills to create an inclusive environment where all children can participate meaningfully. Adult leaders are taught to encourage peer-to-peer interactions, rather than directly assisting campers with disabilities and/or other social challenges. As more campers that need extra help register for camp, this program helps to balance the adult interventions so that peers are able to help each other where appropriate to do so. Learn more about TRACKS and how implement these principles to foster an environment where all kids are meaningful participants, regardless of their needs. We will be exploring training options for the TRACKS program post-grant in this session.

HIGH FIVE® Accreditation Toolkit: A Resource for All
Speakers: Pam Blanchfield, Manager, After School Recreation Care and Quality Assurance; Yafit Rokach, Project Manager; Shanna Morales and Katerina Lyberogiannis, Program Standards and Development Officers, Quality Assurance Unit, City of Toronto

Providing quality children’s sport and recreation programs is something that every community wants to do. In its recent journey to HIGH FIVE Accreditation, the City of Toronto documented key processes and created a valuable resource that a community of any size could use. The City’s Accreditation Toolkit provides guidance on: establishing a vision and embedding a culture of support for quality recreation; engaging and motivating staff; demonstrating value, and more. Find out about the best practices that will help your community manage change, enhance program quality, build organizational cohesion and move towards the ultimate benchmark of quality, HIGH FIVE Accreditation.

Building and Retaining Quality Part Time Staff through Leadership Training
Moderator: Brooke Leonardo, Communications Lead, Coaches Association of Ontario; Panel: Representatives from Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment LaunchPad and the City of Toronto

Leadership training is essential for building confidence and character in people both in and outside of sport. In this presentation, learn about how providing part-time staff with coach and leadership training has helped the municipalities we work with develop strong teams with the tools they need to provide high quality programs and services. Investigate the training tools you can use to build knowledge and confidence and discover how investing in your staff shows that you value them.

Fact, Fiction and Action Around Risky Play
Speaker: Dr. Mariana Brussoni, Associate Professor, School of Population and Public Health and Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia; Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute; Academic Scientist, BC Injury Research & Prevention Unit

Learn about how you can build a case about the need for risky play and great ideas for positive changes in your work with children and youth. This session will dispel myths, reveal truths, and introduce incredible opportunities for children to have new experiences. Investigate the three key concepts that support outdoor play, how you can incorporate these into your programs and plans, tools and educational resources, and what different groups across Canada are doing to support risky play.

Natural Playgrounds That Pass Compliance Standards
Speakers: Scott Belair President, Reliable Reporting; Adam Bienenstock President, Natural Playgrounds

Play is all about diverse sensory experiences, taking risks, physical and cognitive challenges, and dramatic and creative engagement. Using the most relevant data and research and some of the best examples from around the world, learn about natural playgrounds, why they’re important, and how they’re changing the playground industry. In this session, Adam Bienenstock and Scott Belair talk procurement protocols and systems, compliance standards, and the important role designers, builders, and regulators play in the well-being of our children and communities. Scott will provide a breakdown of CAN/CSA Z614-14 (the latest Standard for playgrounds) that will challenge you to think differently about play and playgrounds with a specific focus on natural playgrounds and how they can comply with CSA and the Accessibility for Ontarians with a Disabilities Act (AODA).

Mitigating Tree Damage and Forest Management Costs in Urban Settings
Speakers: Robert Cormier, President, R&B Cormier Inc.; Peter Harper, Forestry Coordinator, City of Vaughan

Urban forested areas provide a multitude of benefits and stewardship of these areas is becoming increasingly complex. In this session, learn about a process recently completed in Vaughan and now underway in Oshawa that will benefit managers of forested urban and park settings with standard GIS and field skills. Using imagery aquired annually by most municipalities, you will understand how to employ new technologies and advancements in automated change detection of remote sensed imagery to keep ahead of managing new and possible problem trees using three dimensional tree crown and canopy layers. This session is ideal for Asset Management Professionals, Parks and Forestry Staff, Risk Mitigation Professionals, Planners and Insurers.

Parks Development Essentials
Speakers: Aaron Karmazyn, General Manager, Community Parks Recreation & Culture and Frank Mazzotta, Manager, Parks Development & Operations, Town of East Gwillimbury

In this session, discover the essentials of parks development. Speakers Aaron Karmazyn and Frank Mazotta provide real world examples of the process to demonstrate how theory becomes practice. Learn more about the guiding principles for parks development, essential related documents, how to negotiate with the development industry to maximize the benefits for the community, and how to prepare for an implement operations for new parks development.

Best Practices for Maximizing Recycling in Public Spaces
Speaker: Syvannah Vine and Lindsay Jones, Waste Diversion Specialists, Busch Systems

This presentation will investigate the best practices for infrastructure in relation to recycling and waste containers in the parks and other public recreational spaces. Investigate the best signage and communication methods to address issues such as contamination, as well as the factors that drive human behavior in relation to recycling. Take a close look at the collection and movement of materials throughout the system, and some of the alternatives to having dumpsters located on site and review case studies that look at operational efficiency in waste management in parks.

Information Session: York Region Parks and Forestry Challenge
Speakers: Aaron Karmazyn, General Manager, Community Parks Recreation & Culture, and Grant McKeich, Supervisor of Parks Operations, Town of East Gwillimbury

In 2018, the Town of East Gwillimbury hosted the 2018 Parks and Forestry Challenge, a day that brought together the ten regional municipalities for a professional development day. In this session, you’ll learn the benefits of hosting this type of event and how you can make your own event a success. The event included information exchange, team and relationship building and a variety of educational, professional development opportunities including: Horticultural Container Display; Plant/Shrub/Tree Identification; Tree Climbing; Zero-Turn Obstacle Course; Charity Events with proceeds going toward a local tree planting initiative with local scout and guide groups.

The Dog Waste Dilemma: Addressing an Environmental Threat and a Public Nuisance while Minimizing Costs
Speaker: Dan Tulley, Sales Representative, Practica Ltd.

Learn about dog ownership trends, the environmental damage to soil and watersheds caused by dog waste and how it impacts public spaces and municipal waste streams. Examine solutions to this issue including bag dispensers and waste stations and the numbers from a study completed by the Kilcona Dog Park Association. Gain an understanding of an environmental issue that is commonly underestimated, the ability to think outside the box when looking for funding for municipal projects, and ideas of how to get the community involved with park cleanliness. Finally, join in the conversation to express dog issues and needs within given municipalities and explore solutions.

OPAL: A Gold Mine of Play for Children of All Abilities
Speaker: Brenda Simon, Director Of Play Programs, Earth Day Canada

OPAL (Outdoor Play and Learning) is a new approach to “risky” outdoor play, sweeping the Greater Toronto Area. They have facilitated 100 POP UP Adventure playgrounds in parks and conservation areas over the last 3 years to introduce parents, caregivers, and educators to the concept of self-directed adventure play. An important and valued program focus is training schools and organizations in how to deliver effective “loose parts” play themselves. Come and try your hand at learning through “loose parts” play! Learn about OPAL’s partnership with Ryerson University and their current research outcomes, tour a universally accessible schoolyard in Markham, and discover how students of all abilities can now play and learn outside the OPAL way. Find out more about OPAL, the history of outdoor play, loose parts, and green space universal design elements.

State of Large Parks in Ontario
Speaker: Michelle Sawka, Program Manager, Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition

This is a presentation of new research conducted by the Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition looking at large parks as regional green infrastructure assets. This report assesses the amount of parkland in Ontario's golden horseshoe, with a particular focus on the number of large parks available for recreation purposes. It also considers the current large park supply per capita and analyzes the potential future supply given anticipated population growth. Finally, the research highlights the current framework for planning, funding, and managing large parks for regional recreation needs and discusses existing challenges with this framework.

Park and Trail Signage 101: How to Develop a Signage and Wayfinding Program
Speaker: Greg A. Weitzel, Director, Department of Parks and Recreation, Idaho Falls, ID

Does your city, department, park or facility have a uniform, professional-looking signage and wayfinding program? Or, is your signage outdated, random and even looks homemade? Are your rules, trailhead information and maps clear, credible and useful? These and other critical questions will be discussed and answered in a stimulating presentation about the importance of signage, branding and wayfinding, with examples from city and county park systems across the United States, including the National Park Service, Disney World and other popular attractions. Participants will also learn how the City of Idaho Falls Department of Parks and Recreation developed a signage and wayfinding program that now helps to guide millions of visitors.

Municipal Parks Training
Speakers: Craig Shanks, Director of Parks and Recreation, Municipality of Kawartha Lakes and President, Ontario Parks Association; Paul Ronan, Executive Director, Ontario Parks Association

This session will focus on the importance of ensuring Parks staff are properly trained for the activities they perform in the field. Whether they are seasonal, part-time or permanent, there is an obligation to ensure each parks employee has the appropriate ministry compliant training before they enter into their duties. Learn about or take a refresher on what the mandatory requirements are, as well as best practices for parks staff training.

Inclusive Parks + Recreation: You Belong Here!
Speaker: Cindy Mendoza, CPRP, Director of Parks and Recreation, MIG, Portland, OR

Communities across the nation are striving to make parks and recreation activities more welcoming, inclusive, multigenerational, equitable, and engaging. Attracting people to parks is key to delivering benefits to all ages, abilities, ethnicities, incomes, and interests. Through case studies, models, and questions, this interactive session challenges your thinking: Can therapeutic recreation promote health and wellness for all? Does social equity apply to all socio-economic groups? Do inclusion and access extend beyond ADA? Does housing status affect park design? Can all ages play? Let’s move beyond a legacy of parks that serve youth, nuclear families, and traditional park visitors to communicate: you (all of you) belong here!

The Future of Community and Environmental Engagement through Shoreline Cleanups
Speaker: Susan Debreceni, Outreach Specialist, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, Ocean Wise Conservation Association

Since 1994, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a conservation partnership by Ocean Wise & WWF-Canada, has engaged more than 700,000 Canadians through volunteer-led shoreline cleanups. These cleanups go one-step beyond the classic community cleanup and work toward long-term solutions by encouraging volunteers to record data on litter collected at each event. In 2018, the program celebrated its 25th season, and this presentation will discuss two new community-based initiatives: ‘Plastic Free to the Sea’ a community-based strategy to limit the flow of single-use plastic waste along the Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean and Clean Shoreline Communities, a new collaborative partnership model which aims to bring civic pride to the forefront of communities while engaging citizens to become active volunteers by heading outdoors to improve their communities and shorelines.

10 Minutes to Fun: Options for the Future
Speaker: Cindy Mendoza, CPRP, Director of Parks and Recreation, MIG, Portland, OR

Providing parks within a 10-minute walking distance—typically 0.5 to 1 kilometer from residents—is quickly becoming the new standard as communities strive to improve park access, promote health and wellness, support recreation and create desirable places to live. In the past, this meant providing smaller neighborhood parks in residential areas across the city. Recognizing that parks and recreation trends are evolving, what does the 10-minute standard mean in the future? This session explores options and opportunities for meeting nearby recreation needs. It raises questions about who is served, how and where park services are provided, what types of opportunities are desired and how access can be improved. It presents a menu of choices and out-of-the-box solutions that re-imagine parks, trails, streets, pop-up programs, art, and urban spaces in residential and commercial areas of the future.

Creating an Integrated and Engaging Marketing Campaign for Your Community
Speakers: Julia Rodgerson, Supervisor, Marketing and Sponsorship, CIty of Burlington; Lori Henderson Marketing Coordinator, City of Burlington

Connecting with your community plays a vital role in how they explore and participate in all that parks and recreation services have to offer. In this session, learn how to create an integrated program tactical marketing plan that brings internal programming teams around a central marketing campaign theme to engage your community. Using the City of Burlington’s successful Summer Play Campaign as a best in class example, learn how to leverage multiple mediums including blogging, social media, promotional contests, and merchandising to engage and excite your community. Discover how Burlington used this campaign to get its residents exploring, learning, and participating in activities and play experiences across the city and apply these lessons to your community!

Yardstick: Parks Benchmarking
Speakers: Chris Rutherford, Yardstick Parks Benchmarks Director, Xyst Ltd, New Zealand; Denise Beard, Manager, Community Development Services, City of Burlington

Do you know how many street trees are in your community? If someone asked you, would you know how much it costs to maintain each tree? Do you have a plan for maintenance and replacement of these valuable community assets? Do you have a similar understanding and plan for your playgrounds, your urban forest, your dog parks, and all things green in your community? Yardstick is a benchmarking project that will help you assess your assets and plan for continued and enhanced use of them, as well as letting you see how you compare with similar communities in Ontario and across the country. It’s as easy as inputting the data and seeing what it will tell you!

Parks for All: An Action Plan for Canada’s Parks Community
Speaker: Dawn Carr, Executive Direction, Canadian Parks Council

In 2018, a national Action Plan was released to connect people with nature and to conserve our incredible network of parks – from city parks to national parks! This work is the result of a partnership between the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and the Canadian Parks Council to enhance the provision and delivery of parks in Canada. With a commitment to grow leadership and influence, the Action Plan expresses the shared goals of the whole parks community and identifies priorities under four strategic directions: collaborate, connect, conserve, and lead. This session will share the Parks for All story and the key actions that inspire and support the powerful benefits of parks.

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Who Should Attend?

  • Recreation Directors and CAOs
Recreation Coordinators and Supervisors
Elected Officials Planners
Recreation and Parks Managers Health Promoters
Facility Managers Industry Advisors and Consultants
Community Development Staff Conservation Authority Staff

Why Should I Attend?

Relevance. Choose from over 70 education sessions that address today’s most critical issues for parks and recreation, from staff training to revenue generation. Sessions are designed to ensure delegates can return to their organization ready to implement new ideas.

Networking. Where else can you meet face to face with over 400 leaders and influencers who are equally passionate about parks and recreation and eager to share their expertise with you? Networking at the PRO Forum is one of the most highly-rated experiences by delegates.


Innovation. Find new vendors and suppliers and see the latest innovations in park and recreation facilities, equipment and consulting services. It’s your chance to strike a sweet deal with a new vendor.


Recharge. The PRO Forum will leave you energized, with a new suite of ideas, tools, and resources in your back pocket, ready to be implemented when you return to your organization.

Make your case to attend the 2019 PRO Forum. 

Event Highlights

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