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Canmore puts financial support behind Alberta Winter Games bid

Canmore’s elected officials voted unanimously to back an Alberta Winter Games bid with a $150,000 contribution over the next three years.

Canmore’s elected officials voted unanimously to back an Alberta Winter Games bid with a $150,000 contribution over the next three years.

Council was presented with the draft bid on Tuesday (June 7) night by John McIsaac, who has spearheaded the proposal to see both Canmore and Banff host the event in February, 2014.

The total budget for the games proposed in the bid is to be slightly less than $1.7 million and, in addition to having contributions from each municipality and grants from the province, the next step is to fundraise $300,000 to $400,000.

“We are already taking that next step,” McIsaac said. “You never get to the top of the mountain unless you are ready to take that next step and we are.

“We want to put on a games like no other and it takes funding to do that.”

The games are proposed to take place over the weekend of Feb. 6-9. The dates avoid the Family Day weekend and coincide with the beginning of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

They are expected to involve 2,800 athletes, coaches and officials, 3,000 volunteers and over 10,000 visitors for the two communities with an estimated $2.5 million expected to be spent at local businesses.

Councillors were impressed with the amount of work put into the bid proposal in just two months.

“There is no question the government of Alberta would pick these two communities,” said Coun. Hans Helder. “This is an outstanding proposal and presentation.”

Coun. Jim Ridley pointed out there is significant in-kind contribution from both communities, not just in facility use, but staff that would play a part in making the games a success.

“It is an incredible amount of work you have done and really in a short amount of time,” added Mayor Ron Casey.

McIsaac said the bid committee looked at past games budgets and audited financials along with talking to past bid committee members.

“We feel very confident we have a clear picture of what is required of us and what we are getting into,” he said, adding the committee is also confident the two communities have the infrastructure and volunteers needed. “We know what it takes to host these winter games.”

He said the budget has overstated expenses, understated revenues and intends to put back $100,000 into each of the two communities when it is over.

McIsaac pointed out all prior games have posted net revenues and there is an additional $420,000 in provincial grant funding that can be accessed.

The 2012 games, for example, raised $400,000 for Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Parkland County.

“We are pretty realistic on our budget numbers,” he said, adding if the two municipalities are uncomfortable with the request for $150,000 each, “that just means we will have to find that money somewhere else”.

The proposal goes in front of Banff council, Monday (June 13).

The only facility lacking, however, is an outdoor speed skating long track. Committee member Hans Holthuis said the $10,000 in the budget to create a temporary facility is more than adequate.

A number of locations are being considered, including the Rec Grounds in Banff and Millennium Park in Canmore.

Holthuis said a permanent structure would provide benefit to both communities and is something being considered.

Transportation and accommodation of athletes has involved the Canadian Rockies Public Schools.

McIsaac said the $110,000 budgeted for transportation is the result of comprehensive number crunching and is adequate given the facilities are all close together.

In addition to the public school and Catholic school boards, he said there has been incredible support from businesses, venues and sports clubs.

There is also a unique approach being proposed with the Bow Valley bid in that it is home to many Olympic athletes.

McIsaac said he would like to see those athletes paired up with the youth competing in the games in a mentorship program.

“We think that part of our unique approach will go a long way with the provincial government to bring the games to our valley,” he said.

In addition to that, he said there is opportunity to have demonstration sports and an expanded sports offering to possibly include boarder and skiercross, halfpipe freestyle, big air and snowboard rail jam for alpine events and sprints, relays, skate and traditional for Nordic events.

Another offering the committee is proposing that is special to the area is a director for sustainability.

“We are so far ahead of the rest of Alberta in terms of going green and recycling we feel we should push that further and show the Bow Valley is number one in terms of sustainability,” McIsaac said.

Bids are due by June 30 and each submitting community will be toured with the location of the games being announced in November.

Currently, Strathmore and Wood Buffalo are submitting along with the Bow Valley.


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