Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games committee received more $11.1-million from Ottawa to help pay for what’s being called Alberta’s largest sporting event since Calgary’s 1988 Olympics.
Cheers resounded from a boisterous crowd of Mountview School students on Friday as federal Minister of Sport and Persons With Disabilities, Carla Qualtrough, made the grant announcement at the Red Deer elementary school.
Qualtrough, a visually impaired swimmer and Delta B.C. MP, who competed for Canada in two Paralympic games, said she knows the positive impact sports has on individuals and communities.
“Our athletes and coaches are a great source of pride and inspiration for us all,” she added, noted the Canada Games will provide future athletes on national teams with valuable training and competition experience.
“I’m thrilled” to support the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, which retain a lasting legacy in sporting facilities, said the minister.
Qualtrough was introduced by Grade 4 Mountview student Caden Johnson, who will be representing Canada at the North America Braille Challenge in Los Angeles.
After praising Johnson for being a great Red Deer ambassador, Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer expressed gratitude for the federal minister’s financial contribution.
Veer believes the Canada Winter Games are helping Red Deer “find hope and stability” at a economically difficult time: “At a time when we need it most, (it’s helping us realize) the best is yet to come.”
Lyn Radford, board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games committee, said the federal investment “will help us deliver a life-shaping Games experience” to all participants. About 10,000 people, including “our best and brightest” athletes, coaches, volunteers, sporting officials and media are expected to travel to Red Deer from all over Canada for the Feb. 15 to March 3 Games in 2019.
An additional 20,000 spectators are also expected to arrive in the city.
Most of the events will be held in this area, including freestyle skiing and snowboarding at Canyon Ski Area. Only synchronized swimming will be held in Calgary and Alpine skiing in Nakiska.
Radford said $3-million of the $11.1 million will be spent to upgrade Great Chief Park including the construction of a long-track speed-skating oval, more parking spots, and spectator/athletes building has change rooms, meeting/flexible space and a media tower.
The remaining $8.1 million will mostly be needed to cover operating expenses, such as playing for all the transportation, accommodations, and meals for the athletes and coaches once their planes land in Alberta. The operating costs for venues, including security, will also have to be paid.
“We’re very grateful and proud to be partners with all levels of government,” said Radford, who called this national event the largest in Red Deer’s history and “the biggest sporting event in Alberta since Calgary’s ’88 Olympics.”