Red Deer to make 2019 winter games bid

Red Deer City council voted unanimously to begin the process of making a bid to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games at this week’s meeting.

“The City appears to be well positioned to make this bid which I believe is a worthwhile investment,” said Craig Curtis, city manager.

The bid process would take place over the course of three phases, said Kristina Oberg, culture superintendent.

Phase one would cost $5,000 but is to be funded out of the Recreation, Parks and Culture Operating Budget.

Oberg said phase one would include an evaluation of community capacity based on facility requirements and preliminary information about the City’s current and future capacity related to games events and facility needs.

“That would come back to council for approval and then phase two would be a detailed technical and financial assessment including the evaluation of potential capital and operating funding sources.”

Oberg said that while she does assume other cities in Alberta will make bids to host the Canada Winter Games, they have typically been hosted in smaller centres in the past and she feels Red Deer stands a good chance.

“I certainly support bringing the games to the City and would like to engage in conversations with other cities in terms of ballpark numbers for what they had to spend to bring their facilities up to date,” said Councillor Dianne Wyntjes.

Oberg said how much the facility updates cost is entirely dependent on the City and what pre-existing facilities they may have.

“It’s hard to say at this point in time how much it will cost and that is what phase two is about is a detailed assessment and seeing what we can do and what we would need in addition to what we already have,” said Oberg.

Councillor Cindy Jefferies said in 2006 when Red Deer hosted the Alberta Summer Games she had a chance as a parent and volunteer to see firsthand the leadership capacity in the community.

“We are very fortunate to have great leaders in this community that are prepared to do the work to get us down the road. I certainly hope the stars align and that we can put the facilities together that we need to host the Winter Games.”

Councillor Paul Harris said he is very excited about the bid process and the idea that the games may be held here in 2019. “We have such a great community and what a great way to showcase not just the amenities but also the trail systems and the people that live here.”

He said with six years to prepare for this he hopes that the City can get involved any way they can and help the bid along.

Councillor Chris Stephan also said he hopes the bid process goes well.

“Across the province we are recognized in many circles as the sports capital of Alberta, so our community is really going to get behind the bid.”

Stephan continued to say that he hopes hosting the games will bring in some federal and provincial dollars towards facility upgrades and that it will be good for economic development in the City.

The City of Red Deer’s last bid on the Canada Winter Games in 1995 and it was lost to Grande Prairie.

“We know that the calibre of leadership in our community allows us to do this now. Perhaps it was the right twist of fate that the winter games were held in Grande Prairie in ’95. Maybe now is a better time for them to come to Red Deer,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling.