City moves forward with Winter Games bid

  • Aug. 21, 2013 4:13 p.m.

The City of Red Deer is one step closer to making a bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games after Monday’s council meeting.

The discussion came after consideration of the report from the Recreation, Parks & Culture Department from Aug. 9 regarding the 2019 Canada Winter Games Bid Phase II Summary.

“Last time Alberta hosted the games was in 1995 when we were trumped by Grande Prairie, and in 1975 when Lethbridge won,” said Recreation, Parks and Culture Manager Shelley Gagnon.

If the City is selected to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the City could see about 3,400 athletes compete over the two-week event and an economic impact of over $100 million.

“This many athletes and events at the same time would be comparable to hosting 22 national championships simultaneously,” said Gagnon.

The Canada Winter Games include 20 events from snowboarding, speed skating, curling and gymnastics to wheelchair basketball, table tennis and biathlon.

By December of this year, the short-list of Cities eligible to host the games will be announced, and by the summer of 2014, if Red Deer makes that list, there will be an evaluation of facilities in the City by the Canada Games bid evaluation committee.

In just over a year from now, in the fall of 2014, the announcement of the City to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games will be made.

“The Games provide the opportunity to leverage federal and provincial capital for the development of physical and economical legacies in the City.”

One exciting possibility in the bidding process is that of the development of a multiplex with an Olympic-size ice surface. This is a technical requirement of the Games.

To accomplish the development of a building of this type, the City of Red Deer would partner with Red Deer College. The City would also partner with Canyon Ski Resort.

Two options were discussed including one in which all sports would be held locally with the exception of a secondary offsite venue and athletes’ village for synchronized swimming. The second option would be to simply host all sports locally, which would require capital investment to gain certain facilities.

One suggestion in order to be able to acquire an aquatic facility that would meet game requirements would be to defer some expenditures in the 10-year capital budget.

In the next few months the City needs to form a Bid Committee, complete Phase I of the Bid Process including a detailed analysis of the technical hosting standards, incorporate the capital implications into the City’s 10-year capital plan, and begin to build significant corporate and community support.

The initial bid fee of $12,000 would be covered by money already allocated in the budget approved in 2012.

The suggestion by Gagnon and the Recreation, Parks and Culture department was to go with option one which would entail a $12.1 million capital cost, and would include synchronized swimming at an off-site location.

City Manager Craig Curtis said he believes this is a very exciting moment because this bid could mean so much for the City. “I think it’s just really important that we try this time and nail down the games for Red Deer, and I think we have enough to do just that. I think it will indeed build community in terms of community pride.”

He too thought that option one was the most economical way to make the bid for the games. “I like the partnerships that will come out of this to create one of the major legacy projects which would be the sportsplex with Red Deer College.”

Councillor Chris Stephan said it’s an exciting proposal and he believes many Red Deerians would love to see their City win this bid.

Gagnon pointed out that the bid committee, if successful, would go after other provincial and federal grants for all types of funding to help the City in their endeavors towards the Games.

Council voted in favor of proceeding with the bid process following option one which reads that all sports will be held locally with the exception of synchronized swimming. Synchronized swimming will be held off site in either Edmonton or Calgary. This bid will cost around the $16 million mark.

While council agreed that the City could use updated swimming facilities like those proposed for the Winter Games, they also agreed that now is not the time to proceed with an expense of that magnitude.

kpalardy@reddeerexpress.com

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