Project Name: Urban Destination Development – Regional Sport Tourism Office (RSTO)

RTO4 and the cities of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge have been co-developing the visions of their respective sport strategies and working to align resources and efforts to create one sport hosting agency. This aligned, co-operative, integrated and immersed organization would work on the long-term planning of facilities, bids and sport development. The sport first focus permits and demands alignment across all business sectors. This is necessary to achieve a more efficient use of tax dollars and more effective delivery of great sport experiences that leverage both the economic impacts of hosting events as well as the social benefits to the communities.

Background

In 2011, RTO4 commissioned a study by HLT Advisory Inc. to examine the possible growth opportunities for meetings and conventions in Waterloo Region. A key opportunity based on Region’s unique attributes for attracting and sustaining business within that industry, was identified as Sport Tourism with one key proviso: to achieve a dominant and sustainable provincial significant the asset required the aggregation and alignment of the three major cities, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, the supporting townships and the stakeholders therein.

Through co-ordination and co-funding provided by RTO4, the Cities of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph along with the Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation (WRTMC) established a working network in 2013 to explore the potential of co-operatively promoting sport tourism in the region.

Representatives from each of the municipalities, RTO4, the University of Guelph and WRTMC worked together over the intervening years on various projects and bids. Some preliminary work on a governance structure was undertaken by the stakeholders; however, the RSTO remains an informal entity with no legal status operating under the oversight and governance of RTO4.

In 2015, RTO4 hired a sport tourism manager to take a leadership role in aligning the partner efforts and forging a formal co-invested entity.

The need to formalize RSTO paralleled a joint bid for the 2021 Canada Summer Games that was led by the entity. With valuable lessons learned and the strength of RSTO’s role in the bid process, a working group has been established that is midway through the process of creating a formal sport office that over time will create a sustainable model for sport hosting.

In fiscal 2019/20, a new sport entity co-funded by the City of Waterloo, the City of Kitchener, the City of Cambridge and RTO4 will formally take over the Regional Sport Office it developed in 2013. It will serve as a shared resource with its own accountability, autonomy and appropriate funding. This sport entity will now be co-funded on an ongoing basis and will integrate with civic asset and resource plans. The three cities have identified sport hosting as a priority economic development asset and are fully committed to working with the RTO to unlock that potential.

Key activities completed in 2018/19 included:

  • A partner and community stakeholder consultation, launched in fall 2017 and concluded in fall 2018, determined the best model, shared objectives and efficiencies that could be realized through a sustained sport-hosting entity in the Waterloo Region.
  • This included the identification of role and function for the entity and its partners, and stakeholders.
  • An implementation plan and business plan to build on the sport hosting strategy is already set for the region.
  • An organizational structure with a governance and funding structure based on partner co- investment will help achieve the organization’s mandate within the next two years.
  • Establishment of sport as one of four pillars in the Destination Next plan for tourism in the region, with established goals and initiatives that also align with the sport hosting business plan.

2019/2020 Objectives

OBJECTIVE #1 – Facilitate and strengthen the commitment of collaborating partners to bring regional events to this area.

Key Activities

  • Establishment of shared process and metrics to determine the execution of desired outcomes identified by the collaborating partners.
  • An implementation and business plan providing strategic direction for the next two years (to 2021).
  • Launch of the new sport hosting office for Waterloo Region.
  • Usage of a master bid book to ensure a unified regional look and feel of bids.
  • Assessment of potential bid development for future regional events (e.g., Canada Games, Ontario Games).

 For more details on this project, please visit the 2019/2020 RTO4 Business Plan, pages 43-45.