BY SUSAN ZIELINSKI
BY ADVOCATE STAFF
The City of Red Deer, Red Deer College and the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society have officially signed up to do their part to work together to prepare for the largest event is the city’s history.
On Wednesday, they signed an agreement to formalize their partnership for the 2019 event and also renamed Gary W. Harris Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport at Red Deer College as the games signature legacy facility.
From now on it will be called Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.
Construction is underway on the $88-million centre that will feature an Olympic-sized ice surface, gymnasium, fitness area, squash courts, an indoor track and teaching and learning spaces.
RDC president Joel Ward said the college’s existing gymnasium was built in 1963 and there have never been ice surfaces on campus.
“Our athletic teams win national championships every year — we’ve never been able to host. This will now allow us to host national events, national tournaments, for the 150 colleges across Canada and it bring people and profile to our region,” Ward said.
“In 2018, we’ll be hosting national championships even before the Canada Winter Games to break in the facilities. It puts the city, it puts the region, it puts the college on the map nationally.”
Lyn Radford, host society board chair, said one of the conditions of getting the games is that a facility be named after the games.
“It comes along with a contribution. The games will contribute $5 million and the city will contribute $6.5 million to (Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre) so $11. 5 million between the two of us is a significant contribution.”
The 2019 Canada Winter Games will include 19 sports and numerous events and festivals. Over 2,400 athletes, 500 officials, 450 media outlets, 700 VIPs and 20,000 visitors will come to Red Deer.
City manager Craig Curtis said the games will be the largest multi-sport and cultural event in Alberta since the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
“Planning and hosting the 2019 Canada Winter Games will create significant economic, social and cultural benefits within Red Deer, Red Deer County and the whole of Central Alberta,” Curtis said.
“The games are expected to generate an economic impact of over $132 million.”
Mayor Tara Veer said the city entered a new era of ground-breaking and game-changing partnership on Wednesday.
“History will one day acknowledge the moment that Red Deer won the 2019 Games as our community’s defining moment. But it will also acknowledge the community legacy from the games, the Gary W. Harris Centre for Health Wellness, and sport as a defining shift for our national identity.”