Plenty of numbers can be used to measure the legacy of Red Deer’s 2019 Canada Winter Games.
There is the $110-million economic impact, the $14.5 million fundraised and augmented with federal and provincial grants, and the exponential enthusiasm of 4,600 volunteers, 3,600 athletes and coaches and 100,000 spectators.
Not to mention, the award recognition. Canada Winter Games chair Lyn Radford is a finalist for Canada Sport Tourism Alliance’s Sport Event Volunteer of the Year Award. The Games themselves are finalist in both the Sport Event Legacy of the Year Award and the alliance’s Prestige Award.
But the Games’ biggest impact is not so easy to quantify.
The two-week event “brought our community together in ways we have never experienced before,” said Mayor Tara Veer.
“Not only do we have new sport and cultural facilities, but our community also found a renewed sense of pride and came together to rally around a shared love of sport and belief in the promise of Canada’s youth.”
Red Deer’s efforts set a new standard for all Canada Games to come, said Veer on Thursday night at a special event at the Gary W. Harris Canada Winter Games Centre to celebrate the anniversary of the Games.
“Our local host society and group of 5,000 volunteers, sponsors and donors, the community really came together and used the Games as a catalyst to transform our community.
“We continue to see the legacy of that in the community that we are becoming today.
“I don’t think we can under-estimate the economic impact, or the social impact as well.”
The Canada Games Council was thrilled with Red Deer’s effort and are using that standard for future Games, including the 2021 Summer Games in Ontario’s Niagara region.
Veer said and others involved in the Games continue to hear what the event meant to athletes, teams and volunteers from across the country.
Among them Nunavut, which sent its first hockey team ever. The MNP Canada Games Torch Relay — which Veer counts as one of her personal highlights — was also a first-time event.
Radford said the Games Red Deer as an event-hosting destination, a reputation that will be further cemented when the city co-hosts with Edmonton the 2021 World Juniors hockey championships.
Radford said the Games also led to the creation of the Central Alberta Sport Authority, which has a mandate to develop, host and celebrate local sports organizations, sports opportunities and future sports events.
The authority is holding its first official meeting next month.