A joint bid by Banff and Canmore to host the 2014 Alberta Winter Games is one step closer to reality.
Both municipalities this week authorized the signing of a letter of intent to be sent to Alberta Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation indicating their interest in a combined bid for the games.
Brenda Caston, Canmore’s manager of community enrichment, said Tuesday (March 15) the letter of support does not bind council financially to the project.
“There is a question of municipal funding and if the municipalities will be required to provide funding,” Caston said. “At this time we are not requesting any financial commitment from council.
“It will be an exciting and interesting challenge for the two communities to come together and put forward a bid and that is the next step.”
At a council meeting in Banff on Monday (March 14), politicians were quick to point out this does not commit them to hosting the event; it just gets their hat in the ring between now and the bid deadline of June 30.
One of council’s big concerns is defining how much of a cash contribution may be needed, which they say could range from $150,000 to $450,000.
Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen said she still needs more information before she would support putting in an actual bid for the games, which would cost an estimated $1.5 million to host.
She said she would also need an approved motion from the board of the Canadian Rockies Public Schools on the specifics of their commitment to the event, as well as a better understanding of the benefits to Banff.
“I need to know the dollars required in cash and when they’re required and the dollars required in-kind and when they’re required,” she said.
“I also need an understanding of the cost of putting in a bid and who is responsible if the committee falls short of the money needed to host the event – and volunteers.”
Canmore councillors expressed support for the proposal pointing to the numerous recreation facilities in both communities as potential venues.
“I think this is a great opportunity for everyone,” said Mayor Ron Casey. “It is homegrown and it supports what we are doing in the community.”
A group of Bow Valley residents is trying to bring together Banff and Canmore to bid for the 2014 games, but they first required a letter of intent from the two municipalities.
Banff last hosted the games in 1976.
The three-day event would attract about 3,200 young athletes, coaches and technicians in mid-February, participating in 24 different sports.
Banff Councillor Leslie Taylor voiced her support for submitting a letter of intent.
But between now and bid time, she said, she would need to be convinced the Banff community actually wants to spend around $150,000 of their tax money on this event, and that there are about 1,000 people who want to volunteer for it.
“I’ll support the letter of intent, not because of an economic argument, but part of being a municipality in Alberta is you’re expected to take your turn,” she said.
“I do believe the games are important for the youth of the province and I believe we have a responsibility to take our turn.”
John McIsaac, one of the residents behind the push for the games, let out a triumphant cheer when Banff council agreed to the letter of intent.
“There’s a huge amount of energy moving this thing forward,” he said.
At this time, Grande Prairie and Wood Buffalo are also considering bidding on the games.