Red Deer is officially less than a year away from the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
An event held at Great Chief Park officially started the count down to the national event which will bring in 3,600 participants from over 800 communities to compete in over 150 events in 19 different sports.
The games will also bring in over 20,000 visitors to Red Deer and will have an economic impact on the local economy of over $132 million.
“We knew the games would have a substantial economic spin-off for Red Deer and region but we underestimated exactly what that would mean,” Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said. “Because of the Games, not only have we attracted new infrastructure dollars to Red Deer that we otherwise would not have been eligible for, it has also meant other levels of government have built long-awaited infrastructure in Red Deer.”
Since 2011, a new QEII interchange, the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre and the Servus Credit Union Arena have all been improved or built for the games.
“In 2011, I went to council because I knew this opportunity was coming,” Lyn Radford, board chair for 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society said.
”Fast forward to now, 2018, and it just seems like it has flown by. I am so excited and it just makes this so much more real.”
Government of Alberta Minister for Culture and Tourism Ricardo Miranda said that every time we talk about sport in Alberta we are talking about quality of life.
“The fact that we get to host the entire country here in a year’s time is truly exciting and you can see that the community spirit here is very much alive,” he said.
“It is going to be a fantastic event and will bring economic benefits to the area and will also foster the next generation of Olympians and Paralympians.”
Radford, during her speech, announced that Canadians as of today can now register to volunteer for the Games.
The Games require over 5,000 volunteers and individuals can apply at canadagames.ca/2019/volunteer. Radford said the board hopes to fill over 3,000 of those volunteers by the fall.
She added that in the coming months, more information will be released regarding the opening ceremonies, volunteer uniforms and cultural plans.
Veer said today marks another exciting day for Red Deer en route to the Canada Winter Games and noted the community support as well.
“Right out the gate, Red Deer not surprisingly had a very strong sponsorship showing,” she said.
“Today, new sponsors were announced including a national sponsor which really shows the community support, the support from around the province and the support of the whole country as Red Deer prepares to welcome the whole country.”
During her speech Radford also announced several new sponsors which included Tim Hortons as a diamond sponsor for the event.
“It is so exciting. It is exciting when a national, iconic company sees the value in the Canada Games and comes to the table big time,” she said. She added there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming year.
“There is a million moving pieces to this and I’m sure when I talk to you in six months I’ll say there is one and half million moving pieces,” she said.
“The big thing we have to do now is stay on course.”
Currently, the Games are on budget and on schedule, according to Radford.
“As long as we make our corporate sponsorships and fundraising, we will be good with our budget. I am pretty pleased about that,” she said.
“We still need sponsors and we are launching our Friends of the Game (FOG) project and that will encompass a lot of our local sponsors.”
She added, “We are going to present a fabulous show for all of our community, for Canada and for the province. We are so excited about that.”