City council moves ahead with goal of hosting Winter Games

  • Jun. 11, 2014 3:02 p.m.

City council moved forward with its next step of support for the 2019 Canada Winter Games bid proposal which was detailed during Monday’s meeting.

“Red Deer is ready to shine,” said Lyn Radford, chair of the Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee. “Our vision is that Red Deer will emerge as the centre of athletic excellence in Alberta, and will exhibit our passion for community, culture and citizenship to Canadians.

“We put a dynamic package together and council has reaffirmed that we are on the right road.”

All of council, after reviewing the City’s costs, including $26 million in capital costs related to hosting the Games, agreed to support the event financially with the exception of Councillor Tanya Handley, who cited concerns over the amount to be spent.

Handley was not comfortable with a clause indicating that in the event the RDC centre for health and wellness construction didn’t proceed, council would approve a Canada Winter Games Contingency Capital Budget of an additional $11.4 million for the construction of a permanent Olympic size ice surface and temporary squash court at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.

Meanwhile, council was also told that more funding would be provided by the provincial and federal governments should the Games be awarded to Red Deer, to also assist with operational costs as well which have been budgeted at $34.8 million.

It was also pointed out that both federal and provincial levels of government are expected to chip in about $11 million a piece to support the Games both on the operating and capital side.

Radford also pointed to the expected financial impact the event could have.

“We have to look at a minimum of $132 million in economic opportunity that is here – that’s one thing that is going to happen,” she said.

“The second thing that’s going to happen is that we are going to build an amazing capacity in this community – we’re talking coaches, volunteers, leaders – that is the next thing we will have. And we are going to have facility legacies – we are looking at the College facility – the Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport.”

The Games would take place in February of 2019 for two weeks, featuring 23 sports.

Some 3,600 athletes, coaches and managers would be here, along with 1,500 technical representatives and officials and some 25,000 visitors would be expected during the course of the event.

Radford said the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax generated about $131 million in economic impact, so Red Deer could likely expect about the same.

She added that community facilities would also see upgrades should Red Deer be granted hosting rights. The Bid Evaluation Committee also returns to Red Deer on Aug. 22nd to evaluate the City’s community spirit, ability, readiness and commitment to host the event.

“The Bid Committee is currently working on putting together the final bid document, which is more than venues and budget – it is about engaging our community, telling Red Deer’s story, our vision for the Games and demonstrating our hosting capacity,” said Radford.

“We are providing the Bid Evaluation Committee with information that clearly shows Red Deer is the best place to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.”

Councillor Lawrence Lee said the primary reason he supported the resolution is for the youth in the community. “This is an initiative that brings us together for all the right reasons,” he said.

“It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity for some of these athletes to participate in an event of this magnitude.”

Councillor Dianne Wyntjes said it’s important to remember that the opportunity to host the Canada Winter Games comes around only once every 20 years.

“So Red Deer, this is our time,” she said. “I also think about the statement that you don’t make money unless you spend money, unless you invest money. This for me is an investment in our community; it’s an opportunity to put Red Deer on the map.”

Lethbridge is also vying for the chance to host the event as well. The host city will be announced in September.

“As City Manager Craig Curtis said, every once in a while a watershed moment comes along,” said Councillor Buck Buchanan. “This is a watershed moment.”

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