The Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6, an event lasting from Friday to Sunday at the Riverbend Golf and Recreation Area, is a test event for next year’s Canada Winter Games. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Canada Winter Games: Pre-Games legacies abound for Red Deer as host

Feb. 15, 2019, is just over 200 days away!

We’ve talked a lot about how the 2019 Canada Winter Games is transforming the community and welcoming over 20,000 visitors for the Games, but today, let’s reflect on how the 2019 Games is impacting our community leading up to February 2019.

You may wonder “Do we really invest in events like this for just a few days? Is there something for everyone?”. There are a number of pre-Games benefits to hosting an event like the Canada Games, with opportunities for nearly everyone to get involved in someway or another.

Over the last four years, the path leading to February 2019 has brought exciting benefits to our community. Pre-Games economic benefits; new corporate engagement; opportunities for artists; community building across the nation; planning experience for volunteers; and developing sport in central Alberta are examples of the some of the benefits our community is seeing now.

Test events are pre-Games competitions that gives our venue and sport teams an opportunity to test out their operations in a competition setting. These events bring competitors from across the country to our community. Not only can the sport make sure they have struck the right chords in terms of accreditation, results, officials and new playing surfaces, it also gives potential competitors an opportunity to see what the venue is like. Test events bring competitors and their families to our community to stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and seek out post-competition entertainment. Cross country skiing, biathlon, freestyle skiing and boxing have already welcomed hundreds of competitors and their families to Red Deer for their test events over the past year. Wheelchair basketball, speed skating, squash and other test events are hosted in the coming months to test new venues, such as the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

The 2019 Games are working hard to engage with corporate sponsors new to our community. This encourages these corporations to see Red Deer and central Alberta as an attractive business community, thereby creating the potential of new employment opportunities, more tax dollars and a deeper connection with non-profits organizations.

Several cultural pre-Games activities have attracted both the professional and amateur cultural enthusiast. From our young grade school emerging artists engaging in the Waskasoo design contest to seeking out a professional artist to design an public art piece for the new plaza. From running a medal design contest and issuing a call for emerging performing art groups, there are a number of opportunities for local and national artists to leave a legacy with the 2019 Games.

Through the torchbearer selection, the 2019 Games is creating a once in the lifetime opportunity for all Canadians, Albertans and central Albertans to feel the magic of the holding the torch that is set to unite the country. The first-ever national torch relay, the MNP Canada Games Torch Relay is an incredible opportunity for the 2019 Games to contribute to community building across the nation. A priceless feeling!

The 2019 Games doesn’t just happen overnight. It comes with strategic planning, developing a working plan and executing said plan. It is through this intensive planning that we are developing a strong, enhanced volunteer and workforce transfer of knowledge skill set. When 2019 is over our community is left with a strong, diverse human resource pool.

Central Alberta continues to be on the leading edge of sport development. From strong local sport organizations to the Alberta Sport Development Centre and developing sport officials, we have always been engaged and this work is being enhanced through the 2019 Games. Coaches and officials are training in preparation for national level events. Training camps are hosted throughout central Alberta to prepare provincial athletes for this national competition. Enhanced venues have been built to support with this training, creating pre-Games employment opportunities and bringing us back to examples of the pre-Games economic benefits.

And these are just the pre-Games legacies! In the coming months, a future editorial details the many legacies that remain following the Closing Ceremony.

As you travel through this great city and central Alberta, have a look around and see the benefits of pre-Games legacies. And to leave your own legacy with the Games, apply to volunteer at canadagames.ca/2019/volunteer.

This is our moment!

Lyn Radford

Board Chair

2019 Canada Winter Games

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