Council votes in favour of Canada Winter Games bid

Red Deer’s bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games may not include hosting synchronized swimming locally.

Red Deer’s bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games may not include hosting synchronized swimming locally.

Council voted in favour of the bid Monday, hosting all sports locally except for an off-site venue and athletes village for synchronized swimming.

Having to move synchronized swimming out of the city re-awakened the debate of a new swimming facility in Red Deer.

Councillors debated public consultation about a new swimming facility in relation to their bid for the games, but ultimately approved the bid and moving synchronized swimming off-site.

Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the motion approving the bid does not preclude the city from going beyond it.

“Given the work that has already been done and given the potential this community has in terms of its location, facilities, volunteers and readiness we’re going to put on a winter games the likes of which this country has never seen,” said Flewwelling.

Administration recommended placing a bid to host all sports locally with synchronized swimming to be held at a secondary site in either Calgary or Edmonton.

Council heard the bid would come with an estimated $22.1 million capital price tag to ensure all existing facilities are up to technical standards.

Building an aquatic facility to host synchronized swimming along with the other facility upgrades would cost in the neighbourhood of $71.5 million.

Shelley Gagnon, Recreation, Parks and Culture manager, said the city put together what they felt was the best economically advantageous and financially sustainable and strongest bid possible for the city. She said this option would have the least impact on the capital budget.

Gagnon told council the community must demonstrate the ability to host all sports in the games with the appropriate venues, field of play standards and support space requirements. She said the venues must be a maximum of a 30-minute travel time (with some exceptions) and the community must have a strong history of hosting major sporting events. The community must also be 90 minutes away from a major airport.

Gagnon told council that the city is well-positioned for a successful bid.

The budget implications will be considered during the 10-year Capital Plan deliberations in November 2013.

The city will also consider pursue discussions with community partners like Red Deer College on the construction of a multiplex to host short track speed skating and with Canyon Ski Resort to meet the technical requirements to host most of the alpine, freestyle and snowboard sports.

In the past, the federal and provincial governments have committed $3 million each in capital funding. More details are expected to come at the official bid meeting. In terms of operating, in past games both governments have contributed $8.1 million each to the games.

Council also agreed to submit a letter of intent to bid and to pay $12,000, the first portion of the bid fee.

The deadline for letters of intent to bid is Nov.29, 2013. The shortlist of cities will be announced in February 2014. In September 2014, the successful bid community will be announced.

The Winter and Summer Games alternate every two years, and each province and territory takes their turn. The last time Alberta hosted Canada Games, they were Winter Games held in Grande Prairie in 1995.

In other council news:

l City council set the clear message – pay your taxes on time. Council received 15 requests for property tax penalty cancellations of a total of 91 properties totally roughly $20, 633.84. Council voted not to waive the penalty cancellation requests.

“It is not our money,” said Mayor Morris Flewwelling. “If it was my money I might do it differently. It is public money. And we have to do what we believe is publicly acceptable for the majority of our public.”

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