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Recreation programs

Recreation eGuide, camps, how to register...

Shutdown status: City suspends indoor and outdoor recreation activities and some in-person services

The move to Shutdown status across the province will temporarily close City-managed recreation and cultural facilities for most indoor activities, limit the capacity at outdoor recreation amenities and suspend in-person City counter services. Shutdown comes into effect on Saturday, April 3 at 12:01 am.

The temporary closures will not impact the operations for virtual programs, Before-and-After School Programs and inclusive recreation programs.

Recreation and cultural facilities will close or remain closed to the public – including recreation complexes, community centres, arenas, swimming pools, theatres, museums and art galleries.

The following recreation and cultural programs will temporarily suspend operations:

  • All reserved recreation activities – including indoor skating, swimming (public and lane swims), cardio-weight rooms, sports activities – team play and practices, and indoor fitness classes
  • Any aquatic program scheduled to begin in April
  • Select cultural programs that operated by reservation only at Nepean Visual Arts Centre and
  • Shenkman Arts Centre

COVID-19 Cancellation credits and refunds

COVID-19 safety measures at City facilities

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following safety measures are in place at City facilities:

  • Physical distancing of 2 metres is required at all times for all users not living in the same household or in their social circle.
  • Plexiglass shields installed at customer service desks to protect workers and users
  • Directional signage to manage traffic flow
  • Room capacities have been reduced to accommodate social distancing requirements
  • Additional hand sanitizing stations are available and frequent handwashing is encouraged
  • Clients will need to conduct a health screening and assumption of risk upon arrival at the facility
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols have been implemented
  • Air dryer use, including personal dryers, are not permitted at indoor facilities and changerooms to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
  • All participants/volunteers/staff must wear masks during outdoor recreation programs except when actively engaged in athletic or physical activity.

Wearing a mask in City facilities

Masks are required when entering the facility, in common areas, lobbies, washrooms, changerooms and hallways as per the Temporary Mandatory Mask By-Law.

We require that all clients wear masks. Only the following programs, activities and individuals are exempt from the mask requirement:

  • Swimming: masks may be removed when entering the water but are required in other areas of the building.
  • Arenas: A mask is required at all times except while on the ice surface.
  • Sporting associations renting out City facilities: while actively engaged in high-intensity sports training and maintaining the 2-metre distancing requirement.
  • Children under the age of 5 years chronologically or developmentally, who refuses to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver.
  • Individuals with medical conditions or disabilities rendering them unable to safely wear a mask.
  • Individuals who are unable to put on or remove their mask without assistance.

Those who are exempt need to let staff know at the entrance during the screening process and let us know how they meet one of the exceptions listed above. They may be asked to use a face shield if their circumstance allows.

All other City of Ottawa programs not listed above, require clients to wear masks throughout participation with the goal of preventing transmission and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases.

Additional safety measures at City pools

When you come to an aquatic facility, you’re going to notice several changes we have made to ensure we live up to our commitment to keep everyone safe, including:

  • Clients are asked to keep their personal items to a minimum
  • Swimmers are required to keep their masks on until they enter the pool
  • Traffic measures will be implemented around the pools and entry and exit will be staggered so crowding doesn’t occur
  • Swimmers at outdoor pools will enter and exit through a gate and not through the facility
  • Viewing areas will be either closed or their capacity reduced, to allow for proper physical distancing
  • Equipment that is not regularly in contact with chlorinated water will be disinfected every 4 hours at minimum

Do your part to slow the spread by:

  • Showering at home before going to the pool.
  • Wearing your bathing suit to the pool.

Additional safety measures at City arenas

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the following safety measures have been implemented at City operated arenas:

  • Participant access to the arena is granted 15 minutes prior to the booking start time
  • No spectators are permitted except for a parent or guardian.
  • Limited capacity in change rooms
  • Designated skate tying areas outside dressing rooms
  • Showers are off limits at this time
  • Water fountains should be limited to bottle filling only
  • Players are encouraged to arrive dressed in as much equipment as possible

Ottawa Public Health states that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases progressively with age, particularly beyond 50 to 60 years. In addition to increasing age, people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions (cardiovascular, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung, chronic liver, cancer, immunocompromise) or severe obesity are at higher risk for severe illness. Every individual needs to take into account their personal risk factors when making decisions about going out.

Spring 2021 Recreation eGuides

Start of spring Learn to Swim and Certification programs delayed

Spring aquatic programs remain suspended under the current Stay-at-Home Order. A decision on the viability of running spring programs at a modified length and cost should be provided within the next week.

Register now!

Swimming lessons eGuide [ PDF - 1.92 mb ]
Swimming certification and specialty eGuide [ PDF - 628 kb ]
Inclusive recreation eGuide [ PDF - 421 kb ]
Virtual Recreation eGuide [ PDF - 639 kb ]

Before and after school programs

Before and after school programs are suspended until in-person learning resumes at elementary schools.

When programs resume, the COVID-modified activities include creative physical-distancing games, sports, and arts and crafts. Quiet homework time will also be provided.

Following Provincial guidelines and advice from Ottawa Public Health, enhanced COVID-19 prevention measures and protocols will also be in place to safeguard children and staff. These measures include:

  • Additional COVID-specific training for all staff
  • Health screening of children and staff
  • Physical distancing
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting

Mask requirements will follow the same protocols implemented in the schools.

Mitigation measures and protocols are also in place should a participant begin to show COVID-19 symptoms, which will include direct notification to the parent or guardian and the need for immediate pick-up.

The City of Ottawa is a registered HIGH FIVE® organization. We commit to healthy child development and safety for children's recreation programs.

Recreation and leisure for older adults

senior centres, older adult programs, active living club…

Learn More

Financial support – Ottawa Hand in Hand

If you are already a participant in a community or social service agency program, if you are an individual or family with a low-income or a family member with a disability, you may qualify for the Ottawa Hand in Hand recreation and culture fee support program.

Only residents of the City of Ottawa may apply for the Ottawa Hand in Hand subsidy, on their own behalf or for a dependent wishing to participate in programs or activities offered by the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department (RCFS). For additional information on Ottawa Hand in Hand, the City of Ottawa’s fee assistance program, residents are invited to visit their local recreation or culture facility or any City Client Service Centre.

Please note: applicants will be asked to provide proof of identity, residency and of financial need and should be prepared to provide copies of formal documentation.

Applicants must meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Evidence of being in receipt of Ontario Works
  • Evidence of being in receipt of a Child Care Subsidy
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Essential Health and Social Supports
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Ontario Disability Support Pension (ODSP)
  • Evidence of being in receipt of Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD/MCSS)
  • Evidence of being in receipt of a Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS)
  • Means test using the Low Income Cut-Off
    • T451E Notice of Assessment or,
    • Child Tax Benefit Form
  • Special circumstances may also be considered (details to be provided in the application form).

While the Stay-at-Home order is in effect, please contact for information on how to apply for a subsidy towards a City program.

  • Residents of all ages are eligible.
  • Residents are encouraged to apply as early as possible before the program registration period.
  • Each qualifying individual, or member of a family, is eligible for an annual amount of fee support ($200 per person).
  • Applicants are encouraged to pay a minimum of 25 per cent of the program cost.
  • A parent or guardian can transfer all, or a portion of their Ottawa Hand in Hand fee support entitlement to a child or children in their household.

Enrolment and medication forms

You will need to complete the following form(s) if you are registering your child(ren) in a program that meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • The program operates for 2.5 hours or more at one time
  • The program is considered a before or after school program
  • The program is considered a day camp; march break camp, PA day camp, winter holiday camp or summer camp
  • The program is an unlicensed drop-off preschool program offered for two or more hours at a time (e.g. Duffer Doo)

All participants must submit a completed Enrolment Form on or before the first day of camp. If required, please also complete the Medication Forms and submit them at the same time. Forms will be emailed to clients and we encourage you to fill them out in advance. Printed copies will be available on site.

  • Enrolment Form for extended recreation and culture programs
  • Conditions of Enrolment
  • Medication Administration Request Form
  • Terms and Conditions of Medication Administration

Conditions of Enrolment

  1. An Enrolment Form must be completed for each participant. If a participant suffers from severe allergies, parents or legal guardian must complete the Medication Administration Request Form, provide two auto-injectors of epinephrine (i.e. EpiPen) and a current photo of the participant.
  2. Parents or legal guardians must notify Program Staff of any changes to the information given on the Enrolment Form including medical, physical and emotional health issues and/or custody arrangements.
  3. Parents or legal guardians must notify Program Staff if the participant will be late attending the program or absent.
  4. Those authorized on the Enrolment Form to pick up the participant will be requested to follow the program’s signing-out procedures.  Staff will not release a participant to any person who is not authorized by the parent or legal guardian to do so. Participants walking to and from the program site will have their arrival and departure information recorded by a staff person.
  5. Participants must be picked up and dropped off by the agreed upon time and by those persons authorized to do. In cases where the participant is underage and has permission to leave on their own, parents or legal guardians will provide the time the minor should be expected to arrive and the time they are allowed to leave the program.
  6. Parents or legal guardians are responsible for the participant before the start of the program and upon arrival when picking up the participant at the end of the program.
  7. City of Ottawa attempts to offer an allergen-safe environment. Please do not send the participant with lunches or snacks that may contain nuts, traces of nuts or nut by-products.
  8. Participants are responsible for their own belongings. The City of Ottawa shall not be responsible for loss or damage to property belonging to program participants.
  9. Participants are not to bring electronic devices, iPods, smart phones, tablets, toys or similar items unless requested to do so by staff.
  10. All electronic equipment with photographic capabilities (including cellular telephones) is strictly prohibited.
  11. Participants are to be capable of utilizing the washroom facilities with little to no prompting. Participants in a non-parented program must be toilet trained prior to the start of the program.
  12. Participants with behavioral difficulties may require additional support and may be referred to Inclusive Recreation for specialized and individual program planning.
  13. Parents/guardians agree to pay for any and all damages intentionally caused by the participant to facility property and/or the property of others.
  14. Illegal drugs, alcohol, or weapons are forbidden on City of Ottawa property.
  15. Participants are expected to demonstrate basic respect for the dignity and rights of other program participants and staff. The City of Ottawa reserves the right to immediately suspend or terminate the enrolment of any participant who displays any behavior that violates the following guidelines:
    1. Inappropriate behaviour, foul language and aggressive behaviour to other participants and staff.
    2. Respect for City of Ottawa property and the property of others.
  16. All participants must comply with Federal, Provincial and Municipal laws and all rules, regulations, policies, procedures and by-laws of the City of Ottawa.

Non-compliance with the Conditions of Enrolment will result in a written warning. If the Conditions of Enrolment continue to be breached, the City of Ottawa reserves the right to discharge the participant. A participant may be discharged immediately after a one- time occurrence where the behaviour is deemed serious, i.e. violent and/or abusive.

Terms and conditions of registration

Programs must be paid for in full at the time of registration. Payment can be made by cheque, credit card, debit card or cash. Cheques are made payable to the City of Ottawa. Prepaid or reloadable credit cards, gift certificate, Visa Debit and Interac Online are not accepted at this time.


If a spot should become available due to another person cancelling or transferring out of the class, you will receive a call from staff. At that time you can decide whether to take or decline the spot. You may register in another class and on the chance your waitlisted course becomes available, you will be contacted to confirm if you wish to be transferred back to your original preference.

Incorrect age

Unfortunately the registration system will not allow you to register if you do not meet the required age at the start of the program. Contact your local recreational facility, Client Service Centre, or call 3-1-1.


Courses with insufficient registration will be cancelled. If a class or lesson is cancelled, every attempt will be made to re-schedule. If the class or lesson cannot be rescheduled, a refund will be issued.

Withdrawals and refunds

Withdrawals can be made:

Online, up to 7 days before course start date for a credit on your recreation account.
At any recreation facility or Client Service Centre.


When requesting a refund, you must submit a completed Refund Request Form available at any recreation facility or Client Service Centre.

  • Refunds can be issued only by cheque, credit card, or as a credit on your recreation account
    • With the City moving to a new registration, booking and payment system, we are asking you to request a refund when withdrawing from a course, rather than adding a new credit to your account.
    • Processing fees are being waived for a refund of credits that have been on your account for less than two years.
      • The $15 processing fee will still apply to a refund of credits on your account for more than two years.
    • If more than 50% of the course/membership has elapsed, no refund or credit on account will be offered.
    • ​There are no refunds or credits for private lessons.
    • For admission and goods purchases, refunds will be processed at the Facility with proof of purchase.

Returned cheque /declined credit card fee

A service fee will be charged after two declined credit card payments and on all cheques returned as Non Sufficient Funds (NSF), Stop Payment or Funds Not Cleared.

Credits on Account

Credits can be left on your account for two years. After which, refunds will be issued automatically and subject to a $15 processing fee.

Seniors’ discount

City of Ottawa residents who are 65 years of age and over will receive a discount of 10 per cent when registering for a City program. A proof of age is required.

Non-resident fee

Non-Ottawa residents will be charged an additional 25 per cent per person per program or membership.

Credit Card payments in excess of $5,000

Credit Card payments totalling $5,000 or greater (within a one month period) will be charged a fee of 1.99% as authorized by City of Ottawa By-law 2013-191. The City's Accounts Receivable Unit will issue a blue invoice monthly for these fees.

Medication administration

If the participant requires that City of Ottawa staff be responsible for storing, administering or supervising the administration of any medication, the participant or parent/guardian is required to sign a release waiver and submit it to the facility where the program is being offered. Contact the facility for additional information.

Severe allergies

It is the responsibility of the participant or parent/guardian to identify if there are severe allergies that require an auto-injector. The City of Ottawa attempts to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants with "allergen-safe zones and practices". Participants or parents/guardians are required to provide two auto-injectors and sign a release waiver to be submitted to the facility where the program is offered.

I Love to programs

About the I Love to programs

Over 3,500 children and youth get to take part in organized sport, recreation and cultural activities each year thanks to the I Love to Programs, made possible by the City of Ottawa and Canadian Tire Jumpstart charities.

I Love to programs are offered across the City in parks and recreation facilities.

To learn more information about the programs or if they are offered in your community please email:

Please include the following information:

  1. Your child’s age
  2. Program(s) of interest
  3. Which neighbourhood you live in

Assumption of risks

When participants from multiple families attend a drop-in or registered program, there is an increased risk of the COVID-19 virus coming into the facility.

  • All individuals, including aquatic participants, staff, and visitors must be screened daily.
  • Screenings should be conducted whenever possible before individuals enter the facility.
  • Children who are infected with the COVID-19 virus are more likely than adults to have very mild infections or to have no symptoms at all, but these children can still transmit the infection to other children and to adults at the facility. This means that participants can bring home an infection acquired in a facility and put other persons at risk. The screening process will not detect infected children or adults who do not have symptoms at the time of screening
  • Residents over 65 years of age are at a higher risk at contracting COVID-19
  • For COVID-19 specifically, anyone who fits any of the criteria below will not be allowed into the facility or program and will need to self-isolate for a period of 14 days or as related to management of symptoms outlined below, from the Ministry of Health’s ‘COVID-19 Reference Document for Symptoms’:
    • Fever (temperature of 37.8 degrees C or greater), new or worsening cough, shortness of breath
    • Other symptoms
      • sore throat, difficulty swallowing
      • new olfactory or taste disorder(s)
      • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
      • runny nose, or nasal congestion (in absence of underlying reason for these symptoms such as seasonal allergies, postnasal drip, etc.)
    • Other signs
      • clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia
    • Atypical symptoms and signs
      • unexplained fatigue, malaise, myalgias, delirium (a serious medical condition that involves confusion, changes to memory, and odd behaviours)
      • unexplained or increased number of falls
      • acute functional decline
      • worsening of chronic conditions
      • chills
      • headaches
      • croup, conjunctivitis, multisystem inflammatory vasculitis in children, unexplained tachycardia (heart rate over 100 beats per minute), including age specific tachycardia for children, decrease in blood pressure, unexplained hypoxia (even if mild i.e. O2 sat <90%), lethargy and difficulty feeding in infants (if in other diagnosis)
    • Symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and in whom laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 is inconclusive
    • outside of Canada in the last 14 days

If participants are displaying one or more symptoms of COVID-19, they will not be permitted into the facility or aquatic program.

I fully understand that the program or activity for which the participant is partaking in may involve personal risk, dangers, and hazards that all participants are required to assume including but not limited to some risk of illness, or personal injury caused by physical activity or other participants. Understanding this, I hereby accept as participant or on behalf of the minor participant all risks, dangers, and hazards as well as the possibility of illness, personal injury or other loss resulting from the participant’s participation in this program or activity. I agree to release, waive, and discharge the City of Ottawa, as well as its employees, officials, agents, and volunteers, from all liability to me, and to the participant, and to my heirs, executors and administrators, that we have, or may have in the future, for all loss or damage and from any claims or demands for such loss or damage on account of personal illness, injury, and damage including death or property loss, however caused, as a result of the participant’s participation in this City program or activity.