COURTESY OF THE CITY OF BRANDON
Brandon 2017 Canada Games Bid Committee members (from left to right) Jeff Cristall, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Erin Brown, Bernie Chrisp and Jeremy Lancaster take part in a press conference on Friday at Brandon City Hall.
The last component of Brandon’s 2017 Canada Summer Games bid package has now been sealed in a box and is en route to the Canada Games Council.
Brandon 2017 Canada Games Bid president Jeff Cristall speaks during Friday’s press conference at city hall. (COURTESY OF THE CITY OF BRANDON )
"I think we have had very good discussions with the Canada Games Council around our venues and we have strong support around council and in the community about the bid," Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "I’m sure we will have ongoing dialogue with the Canada Games committee once they receive our formal bid."
Decter Hirst said there was a backup plan if the courier somehow failed to get the package to the Canada Games Council.
"We can also send it electronically if we need to, but this is why we are sending it a few days early," Decter Hirst said. "When we sent our notification off, we made sure we followed up with them to make sure they got it."
The next stage of the bid process will include meetings in Brandon with representatives from the Canada Games Council and national sport organizations to discuss the bid.
"This is a perfect opportunity for us to refresh our facilities," Decter Hirst said. "Not only will we then be able to host national events, but the people in the community and region will have outstanding facilities to use."
Bid committee chairman Jeff Cristall noted the bid does not guarantee the Games will come to Brandon, because the Canada Games Council likely has a Plan B if Brandon’s facilities don’t meet the required standard.
"It’s kind of like yours to lose and you have to win that race," Cristall said. "What we did was balance off the urge to do everything it took to get the Games with being responsible," Cristall said. "We did an awful lot of work to ensure we could host it and have facilities Brandon and western Manitoba cared about after we were done, and we weren’t doing it in such a way that the financial risk to put on these Games was great. We’re going to do this if we can do it western Manitoba’s way. We aren’t going to do this just to say we did it."
City treasurer Dean Hammond said the city’s $3 million share of the $9 million capital budget will likely come from a loan taken out with a payment schedule in the neighbourhood of 10 years.
"If we could swing it out of the budget, we would, but I doubt we would and it would then be obviously a loan," Hammond said. "The capital projects probably won’t start until 2014 anyway. While we don’t have firm timelines yet, I would envision 2013 to be the planning year to send stuff out for tender and figure out what you want to do and come up with a plan. At that point, then you’d take out the loan for the $3 million, and probably take it out over 10 years."
Payments for that loan would then become annual expenses in future city budgets and if they aren’t covered by other city revenues, they could come from property tax increases in future budgets. Hammond defended the investment in recreational facilities as spending $3 million to get $9 million to repair facilities the city already uses.
"That money would have to come out of city finances whether there was a Games here or not," Hammond said.
The Sportsplex track and building is expected to receive $5 million in upgrades, while the remaining $4 million will be spent to refurbish other facilities that require renovation.
Decter Hirst said the Sportsplex renovation already has gained a $1 million commitment from the provincial government to complete mechanical system upgrades.
"We have put our bid in on the assumption we are using the Canada Games Sportsplex," Decter Hirst said. "We know that this does not meet standards, so the Canada Games committee will have to sit down with Swim Canada to determine whether it’s good enough to have six people in a heat or whether they have to have eight. If it’s eight, we can’t do it."
Decter Hirst said the advantages to having swimmers in Brandon include a complete Games experience for all athletes.
"If they are very focused on the competitive experience, we’ll have to look at other options, which include relocating swimming to Winnipeg," Decter Hirst said.
Hammond said there are other upgrades planned as well, such as replacing the pool’s liner with a tiled structure, renovations throughout the building and an increased spectator capacity. The track stadium will also be renovated with seating areas and other improvements.
Decter Hirst said it was important for communities of Brandon’s size to bid for events like the Canada Games in that it gives communities a chance to be innovative.
"I have a daughter that was an athlete in the Canada Games and I saw how important it was for her," Decter Hirst said. "I grew up and volunteered for the Canada Games in Brandon in 1979 and 1997 and I saw what it did for the community."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 28, 2012