It would appear the pieces are falling into place regarding the Bow Valley’s hosting of the 2014 Alberta Winter Games.
This week, after mulling over the obvious benefits of hosting a winter sports extravaganza which would reportedly attract about 2,800 young athletes, coaches and technicians in mid-February (not to mention friends and family and spectators), participating in 24 different sports, Canmore’s town council has agreed to ante up $150,000 toward the project over three years.
We’re hoping Banff similarly gets on board with dollars of its own when the draft bid is presented on Monday (June 13).
In all, it is estimated the event would require about $1.7 million in funding. With Canmore’s input and about $400,000 in provincial grants available, the ball/puck/skipole is now in Banff’s court to get on board. Beyond the municipal and provincial dollars, another $300,00 to $400,00 would need to be raised.
A committee led by John McIsaac and a group of Valley residents has been putting in a lot of hard work in making a bid for the event and they are to be heartily congratulated. With Strathmore and the MD of Wood Buffalo also working on bids, a Valley event is not a slam dunk. Monetary and volunteer support must still be shown to be out there.
But there would be a lot of upside to hosting a winter games event.
At present, the bid committee’s view of past games budgets and financials is encouraging. So often, when you hear of an event being staged, big numbers are bandied about as to how much revenue the event has generated for a given town. Often, though, it’s not terribly clear how the numbers were arrived at – but at least with past winter games, the numbers are fairly black and white.
If the numbers McIsaac and his committee have seen are accurate and would be mirrored in a Valley bid, some $100,000 could go into Banff and Canmore town coffers if a projected $2.5 million was spent (the 2012 games, for example, raised $400,000 for Stony Plain, Spruce Grove and Parkland County).
Beyond that, though, is the possibility that showcasing everything the Bow Valley has to offer by way of a successful winter games could result in decades worth of positive tourism.
It would likely be impossible to gauge at this point, but if athletes, coaching staff, parents and spectators are treated to the times of their lives during a games event in the Bow Valley, who knows how many return visits might be prompted?
Then there is the infrastructure legacy. Canmore continues to benefit from the Nordic Centre’s construction for the 1988 Olympic Games. Quite possibly, both Banff and Canmore could also reap the benefit of venue construction into the future.
In an area where outdoors and recreational offerings abound and are rightly bragged about, showcasing in-place venues like Banff’s new Fenlands Rec Centre, as well as opportunities in the surrounding outdoors – not to mention the majesty of the Rocky Mountains themselves, the vibrant community cores and the warmth and enthusiasm of volunteers and citizens – it’s hard to imagine a more suitable location than the Bow Valley for the 2014 Alberta Winter Games.