Red Deer is indeed ‘ready’ as the City has successfully landed the bid to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
“What an exciting day – this is a defining moment for Red Deer and Red Deerians,” said Mayor Tara Veer moments following the announcement in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame at Canada Olympic Park on Thursday. “In all sincerity, this victory really does belong to the people of Red Deer.”
Veer added that the rally on Aug. 22nd also helped fuel the momentum behind the City’s success. “Demonstrating their community pride and supporting our Games bid – that helped secure it for us. It’s really a transformative moment in the life of our community.”
Veer laughed as she explained how in the moments prior to the official announcement, she had been holding Red Deer Bid Committee Chair Lyn Radford’s hand so tightly that, “By the time I got up to make the speech, I literally couldn’t feel my arm. But when we heard the City of Red Deer announced, I felt this deep sense of honour and gratitude. It’s really a defining moment in the life of our City and I’m incredibly proud of the people of Red Deer. It was that ‘sea of red’ who secured this for our City.”
Canada Games Council representatives were among several local and regional politicians who attended the long-awaited announcement.
The Canada Winter Games is slated for February of 2019. A host community can expect to accommodate 3,600 athletes, coaches and managers; 1,500 technical representatives and officials; 450 media and broadcast personnel and 25,000 visitors over the 17-days of competition. The opportunity to host these Games comes to the province every 20 years – the last time Alberta had the opportunity was 1995 when Grande Prairie was selected.
In 1975, the honours went to Lethbridge.
“Our bid committee will now transition into a ‘Host Society’ where the planning and preparations for 2019 will begin,” said Veer. “The best is yet to come.”
Radford pointed out how much the Games will mean to the community.
“Our community will be able to build up some facilities, we will get an influx of cash. It will be unbelievable how we can leverage that money. The young people in our community will also receive a legacy of learning to give – and what it means to work together as a community, and I don’t think you can beat that.
“I am a firm believer that what tipped things over to our favour was the rally on August 22nd. The people that came out and supported that – the hundreds of messages posted to social media – that really showed Red Deer was engaged.”
Officials said it was a tight competition between Red Deer and Lethbridge, who both presented strong cases to host the Games.
“The 2019 bid evaluation process was thorough and competitive,” said Tom Quinn, chair of the Canada Games Council. “Both communities put forth an impressive bid to host the Games and everyone involved from both communities should be proud of what they accomplished,” he said. “It was tremendously rewarding for the Canada Games to see the movement alive and active in both communities.”
Meanwhile, local provincial politicians were also thrilled with the news. Cal Dallas, MLA for Red Deer South, said he always thinks of the volunteers who also put so much energy into the bid process. “We’re all so proud of them in Red Deer.
“It’s a high stakes game – lots that is very important to the future of Red Deer was wrapped up in this selection. It’s a great day to celebrate, but I know that starting next week there will be a lot of volunteers thinking about what the next steps are and getting organized.
“It’s also a huge incentive for new volunteers to step forward, whether they are folks in Red Deer who have considerable experience volunteering with major events or new people who have settled in our community and want to be a part of this. I’m really looking forward to that next chapter.”
Mary Anne Jablonski, Red Deer North MLA, said she felt a great sense of pride in the people of Red Deer after hearing the news. That included City leaders, the bid team, and Veer, she added.
She also congratulated those who took part in the rally on Aug. 22nd.
“I feel great – it’s a new adventure. Red Deer is off to a new adventure. I also really enjoy working with the volunteers, so it’s about getting people together so we can show the country we can have the best Canada Winter Games.”