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City moving closer to Games bid

Red Deer is one step closer to making a bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

On Monday, council voted unanimously (9-0) to move forward to the second phase of determining its readiness and the financial implications for hosting the national games.

In this phase, the city will get a better handle on the capital costs before moving onto a third phase of submitting a bid.

Strategy in Action Inc. consultant Darcy Mykytyshyn said staging the games would be a costly initiative but would raise the city’s profile and provide a significant boost to businesses in Central Alberta.

Mykytyshyn told council Red Deer’s current facilities would support 60 per cent of the events with relatively no investment required.

“We’re already well-positioned to host an event like this,” said Mykytyshyn. “In terms of positioning, previous councils have made some sound recreational investment decisions in this community that have bode well for us all at this time.”

The large investments in infrastructure would have to be made to host alpine skiing, short-track speed skating and synchronized swimming. Some of the skiing events could be held at Canyon Ski Resort area, but the facility would not meet requirements for the Giant Slalom and Super G. As well, there is not a suitable swimming pool or an ice surface for events.

Mykytyshyn said some of the events could be staged at a satellite village if the city chooses not to invest in a project.

Mykytyshyn presented a preliminary report on venue and technical requirements, gaps in facilities and alternative options based on the sports in the 2015 Games. The confirmation of the sports in 2019 will be released in early 2013.

Mykytyshyn said the good news is there are already a number of community organizations that have plans in place for their own investments in facilities.

“RDC, for example, has been talking about multiplex that would incorporate Olympic size ice for short-track speed skating,” he said. “The city of course has a long-term capital plan in place that anticipates some of the investments we talked about in the report. It may simply be a matter of accelerating some of those investments for us to be prepared.”

The 2011 Canada Winter Games in Nova Scotia generated roughly $131 million and created about 1,112 jobs. Prince George is projecting $100 million to $125 million in economic activity in 2015.

“The economic activity is quite significant for the businesses that are operating here for Central Alberta,” said Mykytyshyn. “With that comes the intangibles that you cannot measure the profile, the future events that we might be able to host.”

Red Deer was short-listed for the 1995 Canada Winter Games but was unsuccessful.

The official launch of the bid process begins in June 2013 and the deadline for letters of intent to bid is August 2013. The shortlist of cities will be announced in December 2013. In the fall of 2014, the successful bid will be announced.

At its recent capital budget deliberations, council approved $200,000 for Phase 2 and 3. The first phase was a preliminary assessment of the city’s capacity to host the games.

In other Council news:

l City staff will have clearer guidelines for when to suspend, revoke, refuse or issue licenses for drinking establishments. City council tweaked its drinking establishment licensing bylaw by adding a new “consultation and approvals” section to clarify the circumstances and provide criteria. The new section is in line with other municipalities.

l Council is looking to lease more office space for City Hall in the Professional Building. Council approved first reading of a borrowing bylaw. The motion will come back to council for consideration of second and third readings on Jan. 7.

l Discussion on Coun. Paul Harris’ motion to review the current policing service delivery model was tabled for another two weeks to allow administration time to prepare a report.

l Council agreed to re-instate the Woodlea/Waskasoo outdoor snowbank rink after Woodlea resident Bev Blades gave a passionate plea to put the boards up. The rink was one of five rinks that were shutdown in 2011 to save money. During the 2012 mid-year budget review, council reinstated the Fairview rink, leaving the Sunnybrook, Central School, Glendale and Woodlea/Waskasoo rinks closed. Council voted 9-0 to open the rink for the remainder of the season. Funding for 2013 will be considered in the 2013. The cost to operate the rink is $3,830 annually.

l The Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery (MAG) presented a progress report on the city’s permanent history exhibit, Remarkable Red Deer ­— Stories from the Heart of the Parkland. The project is on schedule and expected to open to the public on March 25, 2013. In November 2011, council allocated $1 million for the project. The project’s pricetag is an estimated $1.5 million. MAG has committed to raise the additional $500,000. To date, $108,639 has been raised through grants and donations. On Dec. 9, the current exhibit will close to allow for construction. There will not be an exhibition until the permanent exhibit opens in March. Remarkable Red Deer will cover 4,800 square feet highlighting 250 photographs from the Red Deer and District Archives and 450 artifacts from the MAG collection.

l Consideration of the West Park Community and Area Redevelopment Plan was tabled for up to three months to allow administration more time for community feedback. The plan contains 15 recommendations related to identity, land use and movement. In October, roughly 70 people attended an open house at the West Park Activity Centre. Another open house is scheduled for Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the St. Martin de Porres Catholic School.

l The operational audit of the River Bend Golf & Recreation Society Recreation Society was tabled for up to two months to allow administration more time to prepare the report. The purpose of the review is to analyze the society’s current operations model and to examine current financial systems, processes and identify challenges and opportunities. The report is an update on the process.



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