A successful Canada Winter Games bid in 2019 would see federal and provincial dollars injected into upgrading recreational facilities in the Red Deer region.
On Monday, city council unanimously endorsed a bid for the 17-day sporting event involving Canada’s elite youth participating in one of an estimated 20 sports. The decision paves the way for community and city officials to take a basic assessment of what it would take to host the games based on facility requirements.
The development of a competitive bid costs around $200,000. Council granted on Monday for $5,000 to come out of Recreation, Parks and Culture budget, money that would be used for this basic assessment.
Several councillors said they were enthused that such a national event could take place here and with the vast opportunities it would bring in terms of tourist dollars as well as investment in recreational infrastructure.
“It will once again position Red Deer as a sports tourism destination,” said Coun. Tara Veer. “In looking at the list (of recreational facilities), there is some hesitancy in terms of the current shortfall. . . by 2019, we might be better positioned to accommodate (the demands of the sports) and particularly if there’s access to federal, provincial funding to upgrade these facilities.”
As Coun. Dianne Wyntjes noted, a number of upgrades would be needed including to the River Bend shooting range for the biathlon competition.
“If we get a legacy project, maybe that 50-metre pool will come up,” added Coun. Buck Buchanan.
He was referring to the large pool that a number of aquatic groups would like to see happen in the next several years, but the city doesn’t have the financial ability to do it until at least 2021.
Lyn Radford, the Red Deer chair of the 2006 Alberta Summer Games who helped compile a bid package report with Mike Klass, said it’s important to get going on this so that adequate planning can be done over five to six years if Red Deer receives the bid.
The host community would be announced in September 2014.
“It’s a community endeavor first,” said Radford. “Through opportunities I’ve gained in the sports world, I recognized the 2019 Games would be coming forward.”
Radford said the selection committee would tour the Red Deer area and at that point, they would be told about any deficiencies with facilities and what the plan would be to fix those.
“We would indicate to them that (the federal and provincial dollars) would be used for those particular facilities,” Radford said.
Radford added that it’s possible that the aquatic centre could get built sooner too because private investors could see it’s being backed up with provincial and federal dollars, and so they would want to get on board.
“But until we get this first initial needs assessment done, we won’t know where we are deficient,” she said. “Do we have another facility that could be improved?”