The spark which ignited a bid from Red Deer to host a major winter event like the 2019 Canada Winter games began to glow a couple of years ago during a discussion about the City being ready for ‘something.’
“We thought it was something we should set our sights on and so we sent a letter to the mayor,” said Bid Committee Chair Lyn Radford.
The next two years a group consisting of experienced volunteers and City staff gathered data dealing with what had happened with past winter games, what the costs are associated with hosting, what sort of standards are in place, she said. “So some work has been done on that and it was found out there were some deficiencies and there would be a cost to fix them.”
The price tag on making those upgrades came back at $22 million which included help for Red Deer College’s multiplex, upgrades for the cross country ski courses at River Bend and maybe some work at Canyon Ski Resort, said Radford.
“Those are the large ticket items. The work down at Great Chief Park for the long track speed skating was already in the (City’s) master plan,” she said.
Fast forward to October and the Canada Games council paid a visit to Alberta to conduct an information session and hand out material community groups would need in order to structure a bid.
The deadline to submit a letter to the games council is Dec. 20th and Red Deer’s 15 person committee has been working on that for weeks now.
Following the presentation from the games council Radford said some of the standards for certain venues have been revamped and this could create a little more work to get those facilities into shape in order to host the Games.
“Some of the standards were a little lower or the same which meant the price tag would be a little lower so we’re still looking at capital expenditures of about $22 million for these Games and that’s not including the pool.”
Apart from the concrete assets to host this event and the hundreds of athletes which go with it Radford says you also need to sell them on what sort of experience the athletes will have and she feels Red Deer’s size is an advantage.
“Although we have the capability of an urban area and are able to handle all of the logistics that are expected we also have that small town feeling where the athletes will actually come here and feel like they’re competing in their hometown,” she said.
Radford said the City’s volunteers are the number one asset on display each time Red Deer hosts an event of major proportions and that will work in our favour.
One aspect of hosting an event like this is the legacy left behind in the form of upgraded facilities or new venues which can help our local athletes in the long run.
There is also the exposure Red Deer would garner on the national stage through all the media coverage which goes along with the event.
“This is probably the largest Games Red Deer could host in the foreseeable future and we’re the right sized community to do it,” she said.
If the City measures up in all phases then the next deadline would come Jan. 20th when all the technical data on hosting the games would be submitted.
“I think we have a good chance,” she said. “My motto is it’s our games to win.”