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.


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 2013, RTO4 hired a sport tourism manager to take a leadership role in aligning the partner efforts and forging a formal co-invested entity.

The formalization of this new entity (RSTO), paralleled a joint bid for the 2021 Canada Summer Games. The RSTO led the co-ordination of this bid. Now, with valuable lessons learned through the bid process, steps are being taken to create a formal Sport Office that over time will create a sustainable model for sport hosting.

There is a desire to continue the creation of a formalized sport entity as a shared resource for Waterloo Region. Discussions are progressing toward formalizing a shared municipal, pan-regional sport entity with accountability, autonomy and appropriate funding. A mediated sport consultation, co-funded with our partners has been established to create a formal entity.

Key activities completed in 2017/18 included:

  • A partner consultation to examine shared objectives and efficiencies that could be realized through a sustained sport hosting entity and structure.
  • The beginning stages of a larger, community stakeholder consultation to determine the aspirations of Waterloo Region. It will also begin to align the destination network and partnerships with a shared service entity that benefits a diverse slate of stakeholders while continuing to pursue sport hosting as an economic driver for the region. The first of four stakeholder engagement workshops was held in early December 2017.

Through a consultation process with greater stakeholder input, 2018/19 will establish the best model to serve the three municipalities and key stakeholders in driving the creation of a strong, sustainable sport entity to serve or direct all facets of sport hosting in Waterloo Region. In addition, through consultation, there will be continued investigation into:

  • Identifying and establishing the network DNA and key stakeholders that champion the sport-first model
  • Addressing barriers to better hygiene of both the regional network and sport destination
  • Identifying hygiene issues in the region through a sport lens
  • Establishing the role and function of the new sport entity to help address and break barriers experienced by both local organizers and visitors

In 2018/19 a business plan co-written by core partners will be drafted, and a stable funding structure will be developed for the entity that works toward a model of co-investment among identified partners.

2018/2019 Objectives

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

Key Activities

  • Measure the baseline set of metrics established in 2017/18
  • Finalize RSTO partner matrix and business plan
  • Explore the creation of a dedicated sport hosting office with Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge
  • Use a master bid book to create unified look and feel of bids.
  • Assess potential bid development

 For more details on this project, please visit the 2018/2019 RTO4 Business Plan, pages 43-45.