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New construction of culture, recreation and sports infrastructure doubles in rural municipalities in 2017 and 2018

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Released: 2020-12-18

There were 78,717 publicly-owned culture, recreation and sports facilities in Canada in 2018, as well as 30,326 kilometres of public trails and pathways. Playgrounds and outdoor sports fields accounted for over half of all facilities. Almost all of the publicly-owned culture, recreation and sports facilities were owned by municipalities (99%).

New construction of culture, recreation and sports infrastructure more than doubles in rural municipalities in 2017 and 2018 

The construction of new culture, recreation and sports facilities rose notably in 2017 and 2018. The increase was most pronounced in rural municipalities, with the number of new facilities more than doubling compared with the annual average from 2010 to 2016.

As part of the Investing in Canada Plan, the federal government is committing $1.3 billion over 10 years on community, cultural and recreational infrastructure as part of a cost-sharing model, where the federal government contributes up to 40% of municipal projects in provinces, and up to 75% of municipal projects in the territories or with Indigenous partners. An additional $2.0 billion over 10 years will be provided for various infrastructure assets in rural and northern communities. The federal government funds up to 60% of provincial and municipal project costs (up to 60% where the municipality's population is less than 5,000 and up to 50% for others) under the Rural and Northern Communities stream.

Condition of indoor ice arenas improves in every province and territory, except Quebec and Ontario

Skating facilities remain an essential element of sports and recreation in Canada. In 2018, there were 3,003 public indoor ice arenas and 4,136 public outdoor ice arenas located in towns and cities across Canada, as well as 774 curling facilities.

On average, there was one indoor ice arena for every three rural municipalities and two arenas for every urban municipality in Canada. However, urban municipalities have about three times more residents sharing one facility than rural municipalities. On average, there were about 5,200 residents per facility in rural municipalities, compared with about 18,000 residents per facility in urban municipalities.

Ice arenas across Canada vary in size and capacity. In rural municipalities, 88% of indoor ice arenas contained a single ice surface in 2018, compared with 70% in urban municipalities. The remaining facilities were multiple rink arenas or performance/spectator arenas.

The proportion of indoor single rink arenas in poor or very poor condition was stable in 2018 compared with 2016, at around 20%.

While eight provinces and every territory reported fewer facilities in poor or worse condition, the share of poor or worse single rink arenas rose in Quebec and Ontario. In Quebec, two-fifths (40%) of single rink arenas were in poor or very poor condition, up from 30% in 2016. In Ontario, just over one-fifth (21%) were in poor or very poor condition, compared with 15% in 2016.

Arts and culture facilities have less wear and tear than other facilities

Although about one-fifth (20%) of public arts and culture facilities were built before 1970, less than one-tenth (9%) of the total stock of these assets were reported to be in poor or very poor condition, with most reported as being in good condition or better (60%).

For the first time, Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey collected data on Indigenous culture facilities located in communities outside of First Nations reserves. There were 73 centres located in 9 of the provinces and territories, with almost one-quarter located in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Municipal social and affordable housing concentrated in Ontario

Municipalities owned 9,630 social and affordable housing structures providing 109,341 units nationally in 2018, excluding Quebec (see note to readers). Ontario accounted for over four-fifths (85%) of all units owned by municipalities in Canada. Ontario is the lone province in Canada where funding and administering social housing is the responsibility of municipal governments.

Less than 10% of municipally owned social and affordable housing buildings were of barrier-free design. Apartment buildings of five or more stories had the largest share with barrier-free design structures (17%), while semi-detached houses had the least (2%).

  Note to readers

Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey 2018 was conducted in partnership with Infrastructure Canada. The survey results cover nine asset types (roads; bridges and tunnels; culture, recreation and sports facilities; potable water; public transit; public social and affordable housing; solid waste; storm water; wastewater). The data cover topics such as stock, condition, performance and asset management strategies.

This iteration of the survey covers a larger selection of culture, recreation and sports facilities owned by provincial, territorial, regional and municipal governments, as well as by selected provincial crown corporations. Information on the length of non-paved trails and paved pathways was also added to Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey for 2018.

Data are based on responses from approximately 2,520 government organizations selected from Statistics Canada's Business Register, the central repository of information on public and private organizations operating in Canada. It is used as the principal frame for most of Statistics Canada's economic statistical programs. The following organizations are included in the survey:

  • Provincial and territorial departments and ministries
  • Regional governments
  • Urban and rural municipalities
  • Selected provincial Crown corporations and public transit authorities

Data on social and affordable housing for Quebec are not available for 2018 as the results were too unreliable to be published.

Estimates for 2018 may not be comparable to those for 2016 because of improved coverage and definitions, and changes in survey methodology, including an expanded target population. From 2016 to 2018, the questionnaire for Canada's Core Public Infrastructure Survey underwent several major changes.

  • The questionnaire was collected through an electronic platform instead of a paper questionnaire.
  • Questions were streamlined to reduce response burden.
  • The survey included a census of all municipalities with at least 1,000 inhabitants, and a sample of municipalities with between 500 and 1,000 inhabitants.
  • For Quebec, the survey was conducted by the Institut de la statistique du Québec.

Respondents were provided the following condition rating scale when asked to rate the overall physical condition of their assets:

Very poor: Immediate need to replace most or all of the asset. There are health and safety hazards that present a possible risk to public safety, or the asset cannot be serviced or operated without risk to personnel. Major work or replacement is required urgently. The operating asset has less than 10% of its expected service life remaining.

Poor: Failure likely and substantial work required in the short term. Asset barely serviceable. No immediate risk to health or safety. The operating asset has less than 40% of its expected service life remaining.

Fair: Significant deterioration is evident; minor components or isolated sections of the asset need replacement or repair now, but the asset is still serviceable and functions safely at an adequate level of service. The operating asset has at least 40% of its expected service life remaining.

Good: Acceptable physical condition; minimal short-term failure risk, but potential for deterioration in the long term. Only minor work required. The operating asset has at least 80% of its expected service life remaining.

Very good: Sound physical condition. The asset is likely to perform adequately. The operating asset has at least 95% of its expected service life remaining.

Barrier-free design denotes that a building and its facilities can be approached, entered and used by persons with physical or sensory disabilities. They contain no architectural or psychological features that might prevent anyone, able-bodied or otherwise, from using the building or amenities.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

For more information about why the survey was conducted and how it will inform infrastructure policy and program development and investment decisions, please contact Infrastructure Canada (toll-free: 1-877-250-7154 or 613-948-1148 or by email at or Infrastructure Canada Media Relations (toll-free: 1-877-250-7154 or 613-960-9251 or by email at

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