Let’s Talk: Games transformed Red Deer

Earlier this month, the 2019 Canada Games Torch was extinguished and the Red Deer version of the 27th edition of the Canada Games concluded. The past five years have been a community effort like no other, and we celebrated the power of sport to build both community and country. The 20,000 guests to our city returned home, the festival tent was deflated and, in some ways, our community has returned to “business as usual”, but in other important ways, it has not.

The Games have come and gone, but our community experienced transformation because of them. From an economic perspective, the estimated spinoff into our local economy is approximately 132 million dollars; With a succession of recessionary years in our province, this was and is a welcome investment in our city. The Games has proven to be the strongest infrastructure catalyst in Red Deer’s history, attracting Federal and Provincial infrastructure investment to Red Deer that otherwise would have gone to another Alberta city had Red Deerians not pursued this opportunity.

Because the Games attracted new infrastructure dollars, many of our park nodes are modernized, our sport and recreation amenities are built to a national standard (strongly preparing us for future event hosting), we have a new recreation centre in the South West quadrant of the City, and our downtown received revitalization investment through the Harris Celebration Plaza and future home of Culture Services.

But that is not all. Because of the Games, the Red Deer Airport received infrastructure funding for the runway extension, the QE11 interchange upgrade finally transpired, and the capacity for expansion generated by the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre helped position Red Deer College to become Red Deer University, the latter which is the most strategic economic development initiative our community can undertake.

Because of the Games, our community infrastructure is transformed, but above all our community is transformed in other, undoubtedly more important, ways. Red Deer you should be proud. Be very proud. Over the course of the Games, Red Deer solidified our national positioning as a strong and sought-after destination for sport and other tourism.

Athletes, spectators, coaches, officials and media were welcomed to Red Deer and were left with a highly positive impression of the Red Deer we are and are becoming. We made the moment ours, as individuals, as a community, and as a country in pursuit of possibilities. Many of our fellow Canadians marveled at what we were able to accomplish together.

But above all, my community, in this time of great social division and economic hardship, we found a way to unity. We came together to accomplish something far bigger than ourselves. We were Canadian history-in-the-making with each other, and we experienced, and made the most of, a once-in-a-generation opportunity together.

My personal Games experience began with the final leg of the torch run, with my loved ones and local Special Olympian (and most special of friends) Toryn Holden by my side, and concluded with the volunteer thank you with the 5000 people who made it all happen. The beginning and ending of my Games experience are pictures of why we always aspire to build community life; Community is about all of us doing our part to build a better quality of life for our loved ones and neighbours. Red Deer and Central Alberta, you’ve done our city and country proud, and as we pass the flag to the people of Niagara, I am confident we will find new ways to build upon the good we have accomplished together.

For all of this, we are thankful for the Canada Games Council, the local Host Society, our generous partners, and the more than 5000 incredible volunteers who made this opportunity possible. To our honourary Co-Chairs, Ron and Cari MacLean, to our “force-to-be-reckoned with” Chair Lyn Radford and CEO, Scott Robinson and your respective teams…

You, my friends, are game-changers.

As always, Council thanks you for the ongoing opportunity to represent you.

Until next time…

Mayor Tara Veer

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