Winnipeg will get a total of $9 million to upgrade recreation facilities such as the Pan Am Pool if the city is successful in its bid to host the 2017 Canada Summer Games.
On Wednesday, Winnipeg’s executive policy committee voted to approve $3 million in capital spending as part of the city’s bid to host the event. The funds will be used to upgrade Winnipeg recreation facilities and will be matched by the provincial and federal governments for a total of $9 million.
Bid committee co-chair Hubert Mesman said the Canada Games Council requires host cities to put together an infrastructure plan for the multi-sport event, which will bring together about 4,500 of the country’s best amateur athletes, 10,000 coaches and officials and up to 20,000 out-of-province visitors. He said it’s Manitoba’s turn to host the games, but the games council could decide to move it to another province if Winnipeg’s bid is unsatisfactory.
Mesman said the committee is looking to use a portion of the capital funds to upgrade the Pan Am Pool and the track at the University of Manitoba. He said the U of M is currently building an additional student residence and the committee believes there will be adequate housing to host an athlete village on campus.
A bid proposal has to be submitted by April 6 and the host city will be announced at the end of April.
"While it’s not a done deal we’re pretty confident we’ll have all the ingredients," Mesman said.
In January, the City of Brandon’s bid for the games was rejected. Needless to say, it was a major disappointment for Brandon, after members of the city’s 2017 Summer Games committee worked for more than a year on the bid.
"I think that the potential opportunity for Brandon to host the games in 2017 would have been a huge benefit for the community," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "Brandon does an outstanding job of hosting. Even with the ‘thanks, but no thanks’ letter from the Canada Games, they referenced the passion and enthusiasm that Brandon has for the games, and our legacy of being a partner twice before (1979 and 1997), so I know we would have done an outstanding job."
The main reason the Canada Games Council rejected Brandon’s bid was the lack of an indoor eight-lane, 50-metre pool, which is the national standard. The Sportsplex pool has six lanes.
Decter Hirst said she is pleased to see Winnipeg is now pursuing the Summer Games for its 50th anniversary event.
"I think it’s important for Manitoba to host the Games … especially in 2017," she said. "So anything that Brandon can do to help support the Winnipeg bid, we’ll do."
Roughly $250,000 was spent on Brandon’s bid preparation, travelling to the games in Halifax, as well as engineering and consulting reports.
Decter Hirst said they are continuing talks with the provincial government in an effort to be reimbursed.
Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz said Halifax saw $130 million in economic spinoffs after the city hosted the games a few years ago and the event will have a positive impact on the local economy. The plan calls for Winnipeg to allocate the $3 million in capital funds over a four-year period towards facility upgrades for the games or a legacy project, starting in 2014.
The plan still needs to be approved by city council.
"Improving, enhancing and building new facilities in our city is extremely important for our city," Katz said.
Manitoba last hosted the Canada Summer Games in 1997, when the event was held in Brandon. The games include 20 sports, including volleyball, sailing, cycling, baseball, swimming and soccer.
The 2017 games have a total operating budget of $26 million, Mesman said, with the federal and provincial governments each providing $7.3 million in operating funds. The remainder will be generated through sponsorships and ticket sales, he said.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 14, 2013