Brandon’s attempt to land the 2017 Canada Summer Games may have hit a minor snag over Swim Canada’s requirements to hold events in an eight-lane pool instead of the six-lane Sportsplex pool.
The Canada Games Council has submitted a preliminary report to the Manitoba provincial government that outlines where the Brandon bid meets event hosting standards and where their concerns lie, said Patrick Kenny, the Canada Games Council’s communications and marketing director. The final report is being prepared for the Canada Games Council’s meeting in Montreal, Dec. 6-7.
“I know that there has been some discussion with the province at this point in terms of the initial findings of this report,” Kenny said. “I know the report isn’t done yet, but there have been some meetings with the province about the Brandon bid. In terms of recommendations on what would happen for the 2017 Games, that has not happened from the Games Council’s perspective.”
Kenny said there has been no discussion about holding the games anywhere else than Brandon, but that the provincial government needs to look at the preliminary findings to determine, “if there are any shortfalls.” He added the provincial government’s feedback will be included in the final report.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said the bid committee has options if the Sportsplex is not deemed an acceptable swimming venue. She said that while Brandon was allowed to host Canada Games swimming events at the Sportsplex in 1997, the current standard for eight-lane pools was going to be adhered to for the 2017 Games.
“The understanding was they would never back away from that eight-lane requirement again,” Decter Hirst said. “We had hoped we could come up with a compromise position that would allow us to continue to use six lanes at the Sportsplex. Swim Canada … insists on this being eight lanes.”
Decter Hirst said the potential solutions include: moving all swimming events to Winnipeg (diving events will be taking place at Pan Am Pool), the unlikely construction of a new eight-lane pool in Brandon, the renovation of the Sportsplex to increase the pool size to eight lanes or renting an eight-lane pool and building a temporary venue somewhere in the city.
There is also a possibility the city could retrofit an existing outdoor pool to meet that standard.
Decter Hirst said that could be a possibility, given that facility could then be converted into an outdoor water park similar to Splash Island in Portage la Prairie.
Or an eight-lane pool could be built elsewhere in Westman, and swimming events could be moved there.
“One of our community partners is …thinking about maybe having enhanced aquatic facilities in their community,” Decter Hirst said, declining to name the community. “They haven’t had a chance to run it up their various flagpoles at councils yet.”
Decter Hirst said while the Canada Games Council could move the Games to another community, even another province, “that would make the mayor of Brandon very unhappy and we all know what happens then.”
She added moving the Games would make the province unhappy as well as it prevents Manitoba from taking centre stage.
“We are working closely with Swim Manitoba and they were also very involved in the Sportsplex right after the (civic) election when we asked whether we should save it or close it,” Decter Hirst said.
“I don’t understand why it’s so important to put eight kids in a heat instead of six. I know it has to do with times, but I don’t know how it would impact those times.”