Several local organizations are in line for a big boost if Red Deer’s bid for the 2019 Canada Winter Games is successful.
Central to a successful games bid will be the facilities at Red Deer College, Canyon Ski Resort and other areas that will have to be upgraded to support the sports, the athletes and the spectators.
For some time, Red Deer College has pursued building a multiplex facility. College president Joel Ward said they have a significant shortage of athletics facilities and this is a great opportunity to rectify the situation.
The college and the city have been working together for months behind the scenes on the Canada Games bid and what the college can bring to the table. This includes accommodations for 1,000 athletes. Currently, the college houses about 600 students.
“We have plans to build new residences as well, anyways. We think that will help support the city’s bid,” said Ward. “We know out of this project could come legacy projects. One would be the multiplex on our campus, which would host a number of events and be a legacy for Central Alberta for years to come.”
Ward called the multiplex an aspiration of the institution. It could be build to host short-track speedskating, on an Olympic sized ice surface, four temporary or permanent squash courts, a gymnasium and a field house for other sports, such as indoor soccer.
“It will not only be designed to meet the needs of the Canada Winter Games, but it would also be built to meet the ongoing needs of hockey, soccer and other sports that could go there,” said Ward. “We would have Olympic-sized ice and NHL-sized ice as well, figure skating and all kinds of things could happen.”
As a legacy project, the multiplex would be accessible to all residents of Central Alberta.
The college does not know exactly what the cost of the multiplex could be, but it is dependent on what elements get built.
Ward said it could start at $25 million and go up to $50 million, depending on what is included. In a letter to Red Deer city council, the college requests a $10-million capital contribution for the construction of the multiplex.
“Then we would work with our provincial partners, federal partners and business partners, sports partners to fill the gaps,” said Ward.
Ward said it would be an affordable time for athletic facility construction. He said the college already owns the land, mitigating any land issue.
“We would put it on the corner of 32nd Street and Hwy 2,” said Ward. “It would have fabulous access to all of Central Alberta and when you have all those cars going by, our ability to name it and sell it is probably worth something.”
Canada Games ski events could be held at Canyon Ski Resort, just east of Red Deer. While the facility operators have not committed to being a part of the games, a letter sent to the city says the resort will support the bid.
Operators indicated they would be able to host a large number of events with some modifications, after reviewing documents provided by ISL Engineering.
“This is not intended to be a commitment letter, but a show of support to consider our unique venue as the host for both alpine and freestyle sports for the 2019 Canada Winter Games,” said the letter.
According to the facility review prepared last year, Canyon Ski Resort could host freestyle skiing and snowboarding events by extending the mogul course by 20 metres and adding a halfpipe and slopestyle course. Canyon is currently able to host some alpine events, including slalom, dual paneled slalom and ski cross, but would have to upgrade its facilities for the giant slalom and the super G.
The review indicates the current vertical drop at the resort is 164 metres and has to be between 200 and 350 metres for giant slalom and between 250 and 450 for the Super G.
John Cuthbertson, committee chair of the Central Alberta Aquatic Centre — a group pushing to build a mutli-use aquatic facility in Red Deer — is hopeful the bid for the games will help spark a debate over the construction of such a facility.
“The discussion at council the other night didn’t foreclose on doing something else if it was found to be feasible,” said Cuthbertson.
Though city council voted in favour of the bid, while hosting synchronized swimming offsite, both Mayor Morris Flewwelling and Cuthbertson said this does not preclude the city from going above and beyond the bid.
Cuthbertson echoed Ward’s sentiment that building an aquatic centre in relation to the Canada Games would be cost-effective.
“Interest rates available to the municipality are so low that they are hard to ignore,” said Cuthbertson. “The comment was made ‘Why aren’t we using this?’ That’s what we’ve been saying for the last few years. Together with that and the possibility of some funding emanating out of the games, then that would keep it at the lowest possible cost or as much as we can.”
A facility review prepared by Strategy in Action Inc. outlined the need for a facility for synchronized swimming facility that would, at a minimum, be 25 metres in length, have eight lanes, be two metres deep for most of the pool, but have a three-metre deep section and have one additional warm-up pool of similar standards in the same facility.
Council chose to look for an offsite facility in either Edmonton or Calgary to satisfy this requirement for hosting the games.