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City council hears update on Canada Winter Games

Finances and projects are on track for the event, which opens Feb. 15th

Representatives with the upcoming 2019 Canada Winter Games dropped by City council this week to give an update on how things are shaping up for the event, slated for next February.

“137 days to go – can you believe that,” said Lyn Radford, Canada Winter Games board chair.

Recent highlights include that the 2019 Games passes and tickets are on sale, and the festival line-up has been announced as well.

And just this past weekend, 600 trees were planted on 22nd St.

“In total, 2,019 trees will be planted,” she said.

Scott Robinson, CEO of the Games, said things are on track and timelines are being met in terms of planning as well.

“Forty-five milestones have been reached and 17 remain,” he said, adding that there are 25 functional committees and 14 venue teams that are working hard on bringing plans for the mammoth event to fruition.

“It’s really interesting to see it coming together,” he said.

“From a community engagement point of view, there is sort of two parts to our strategy,” he said.

First, that involves a thorough response to requests from community groups regarding Games involvement. Games staff and volunteers have also been very busy reaching out to the community.

“We’ve had such a tremendous response. There are many more (local non-profits, businesses and social service agencies) than you can even realize – it’s great to have that level of engagement,” he said.

Also, venues for the Games are coming along. Canyon Ski Area, River Bend, and Great Chief Park are all completed, as is the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre (adjustments to squash courts are being completed.)

Red Deer College’s new residence building is on track in terms of completion as well, he said.

The Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza downtown is also set for completion in November, with an opening event planned for Nov. 17th.

Financially, things are coming along well, council was told.

“We’ve achieved 90 per cent of the total revenue goal for the Games,” said Robinson.

“We are doing very, very well.”

These days, there are about 55 staffers in place and 12 per cent of them are bilingual.

More than 3,300 volunteer applicants have come in, and currently more than 1,000 volunteers have completed orientation. Robinson said 10 per cent of these are bilingual.

Looking ahead, Radford and others are off to Ottawa this week to light the torch and mark the kick-off of the national torch relay.

“We will be on Parliament Hill on Thursday, and the torch travels coast to coast to 49 communities.”

The Red Deer Torch Relay arrives in Red Deer on Feb. 15th.

Another major point – a festival is planned for Feb. 16th to March 1st for those interested in an array of cultural and artistic-themed activities and events.

“Everyone will have an opportunity to become engaged with the Games,” said Radford.

Featured performers recently announced include Alan Doyle, Bif Naked, Brett Kissel, Gord Bamford, The Strumbellas and the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra among others.

Radford also pointed to a number of Games-related events in the planning which include a Hall of Honour dinner on Feb. 14th.

As for the main event, the opening ceremony for the Games runs Feb. 15th. Closing ceremonies run March 2nd.

And there is still room to help out.

“We still need 2,000 volunteers,” said Radford.

The 2019 Canada Winter Games will feature 19 sports, more than 150 events and the aforementioned culture festival. Up to 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches are expected, along with some 20,000 visitors.

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