The recently named chief executive officer of the 2019 Canada Winter Games has officially taken his post.
Scott Robinson was selected from 33 applicants and began his work with the organization last week. Robinson joins the Games team following 23 years with Hockey Alberta, including 10 years as executive director of the Hockey Alberta Foundation.
A Red Deer resident for more than two decades, Robinson was actively involved with the Red Deer Bid Committee as well as the Transition Team that was working with the Canada Winter Games Council and the City of Red Deer to transition from a Bid Committee to a Host Society.
“It’s very exciting. I have been in sport for a long time and Red Deer is my home and to have an opportunity to lead a project like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I feel very fortunate and honoured to be chosen and I’m excited about the opportunity we have as a community in front of us.
“We have such a strong group of volunteers with the Board. They are a fantastic group to work with – so much knowledge and so much experience and commitment to this community that it is very exciting as an individual to get the opportunity to work with people like that.”
Robinson said his first order of business will be to establish the base for the organization including getting a new home base next month at the old Central School location in downtown Red Deer. Currently the 2019 Canada Winter Games office is being housed at the Recreation Centre.
“I’m coming in now and I’m going to take over some of the operational things,” he said, adding the organization is also working on its vision for the Games.
Lyn Radford, chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Board, said the organization is excited to have Robinson on board. “The 2019 Canada Winter Games Society feels very fortunate to get someone with the passion and knowledge of our community to lead the operations of these Games. Scott will make sure all the ‘T’s’ are crossed and ‘I’s’ dotted to ensure that the vision and mission of the board is met,” she said. “When our community welcomes over 25,000 participants in February 2019, his team will be ready and we as a community will feel a swell of pride that will be second to none experienced.”
The Board will be approving its governance plan at a meeting set for next month.
“We’ll be giving Scott his move-forward goals. We’ll also have the opportunity to meet with the Canada Games Council and we’ll really get down into the operations of it,” said Radford. “Some of the exciting stuff that is happening is that we are getting going on some of the capital projects and we are starting to be able to see some of the plans that are coming together with that. The City is managing that for us, but we definitely have a seat at the table with those projects. Between the City and the College, it’s getting pretty exciting.”
Robinson added having been to several Canada Games, the Central Alberta community probably doesn’t quite realize what is coming yet.
“It’s a very, very big event. It will be our Vancouver 2010 and our Calgary ’88 – it is that size of an event and it will have that kind of impact on the community, both from a legacy point of view and a community spirit and engagement point of view,” he said. “I think that is one of the most exciting parts of it. Obviously, we’ll have a great Games for the athletes and it will be very exciting to watch their performances – but what we’re also going to have is a community engagement opportunity that we’ve never seen here certainly for a long time.”
Robinson said he is looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“The scale of the Games creates huge challenges and the speed by which it has to come together creates huge challenges. But the reality is that we have great people in this community and they are going to be a big part of making sure it all happens.”
Looking ahead, Radford said about 100 committees will be formed prior to the 2019 Canada Winter Games and there will be many opportunities for the community to get involved.
“There will be about 40 big committees and then another 40-50 subcommittees as well. There are so many little details that people don’t realize,” said Radford.
In total, about 5,000-6,000 volunteers will be needed for the Games.
“It’s a lot of people and one of the major areas of the Games is to manage that size of a volunteer network and training, preparation and outfitting. It becomes a big part of the Games,” said Robinson. “Red Deer is hosting the Games, but it is about Central Alberta and Alberta. We will have people applying to be a part of this event from all over Alberta. The communities around us will be very engaged and we want them to be very involved. We want to create a Central Alberta feel to the Games and an Alberta feel.
“Alberta gets to host these Games once every 25 years so it is a unique opportunity and we encourage people to want to be a part of it.”
When the Canada Winter Games takes place in Red Deer in February 2019 the City will see about 3,600 athletes compete, along with 1,800 coaches over the two-week event. Robinson said in total there will be about 25,000 to 30,000 people who attend the Games in some capacity.
It is anticipated the region will see an economic impact from the Games of between $100 million and $125 million.
In addition, it was nearly a year ago that Red Deer was named the host community for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, and Radford said excitement within Central Alberta continues to be strong.
“The community spirit for the Games hasn’t dampened at all and if anything it continues to heighten,” said Radford. “I’m so looking forward to 2019 because this City is going to be rocking.”