Red Deer is aiming to create more economic diversification by being primed to host more major events once the pandemic wanes.
A big “pent-up demand” for attending sports and cultural attractions will exist once it’s safe to do so — and Red Deer should be poised to take full advantage, Tara Lodewyk, general manager of development for the City of Red Deer told city council.
City councillors approved on Monday a new major event strategy and destination development framework with the goal of seeing Red Deer become the top major event destination among mid-sized Canadian cities by 2030.
Right now it’s No. 5 on the national list, Lodewyk told councillors. “We want to be No. 1.”
Mayor Tara Veer acknowledged Red Deer’s strong history of hosting major events, such as the 2019 Canada Winter Games, the World Juniors Hockey Championship, the Canadian Finals Rodeo and other national attractions.
Besides building on the momentum for hosting major sporting events, the goal is also to capitalize on the strong demand for major arts and cultural events, added Veer. She believes this will “enhance our community opportunities through economic development, community engagement and community pride.”
Lodewyk told council this strategy and framework align with the city’s strategic plan, which involves leveraging Red Deer’s central location to bring in more business and help diversify the local economy.
The strategy outlines a single-point of contact and identifies an opportunity to transition Tourism Red Deer into a Destination Development Corporation (DDC) to oversee major events and broader tourism development in Red Deer.
Lodewyk said the DDC will have three major functions: tourism marketing, attracting major events, and destination development to transform Red Deer into a premier major event destination.
The City of Red Deer plans to work with Tourism Red Deer to develop a plan for its transition to the DDC. Lodewyk said the framework will “help us look beyond current challenges and focus on future economic development.
“Events contribute to quality of life, diversify our economy and generate spending in our community.”
Rene Rondeau, executive -director for Tourism Red Deer said he looks forward to working with the city “to position Red Deer as a leading destination for major events.
“We are ready, to explore this opportunity and how it can best serve our community. “