COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN
Canada Games bid evaluation committee chair Wayne Carew, right, shakes hands with athlete Slade Doyle during a presentation at the Assiniboine Community College’s North Hill campus on Monday.
Brandon’s 2017 Canada Summer Games bid committee did not waste what is likely its last opportunity to impress the Canada Games Council on Monday.
Brandon’s Canada Summer Games bid committee vice-president Bernie Chrisp dons a hat he wore during the city’s last Canada Games (in 1997) during a presentation to the evaluation committee on Monday.
(COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
"You certainly have an incredibly enthusiastic community," Canada Games Council senior adviser Wayne Carew said after a whirlwind tour to evaluate whether Brandon can meet the standards of a modern Canada Games.
The Canada Games Council representatives toured the city on Brandon Transit buses with welcome signs, and in frequent meetings with political, business and education leaders, Carew said he could not help but notice there is a desire in the region to host the Games.
"You can’t get a measure of enthusiasm, excitement, vision and commitment western Manitoba has for the Games by reading a submission," Carew said. "There is a community sense of pride that’s hard to see in many communities across the city. The farther you go from a larger centre, the more sense of pride there is in what you have."
Carew then related what he sees in Brandon to his home province of Prince Edward Island, which he noted has a similar enthusiasm.
Members of the bid evaluation committee visited prospective Games venues to see for themselves what the hard copy of the bid package may not have been able to put on display. They were also tasked to see whether the venues met or could be retrofitted to meet the existing standards in place for national championships within the respective sports.
To emphasize Brandon’s past as a major championship host, longtime local amateur sports organizer Bernie Chrisp symbolically donned the straw hat he earned as a senior committee chairman at the 1997 Canada Summer Games while speaking at length about the city’s ability to host the nation. That message was duly noted by Carew.
"Can these folks deliver?" Carew said.
"That’s what you want to do. You want to meet the volunteers who are going to put their names on the line and reputations on the line to make sure they are going to deliver. The big challenge is we have a technical evaluation committee that comes in and does an evaluation on the facilities and that gets factored in."
And the top concern raised by the technical review on Brandon’s bid is whether a six-lane 50-metre pool at the Sportsplex can adequately accommodate a sport used to having eight-swimmer heats. Swimming events at the 1997 Canada Summer Games, hosted by Brandon, were at the six-lane Sportsplex pool, though an eight-lane venue was preferred.
"The technical evaluation committee was in and got to see it and that’s what I wanted our bid evaluation committee to do," Carew said. "We’re ultimately going to be responsible for making that recommendation to (Premier Greg Selinger) and to our own board."
Brandon 2017 bid committee chairman Jeff Cristall said this was one component of the bid process that gave them a chance to build a working relationship with the Canada Games Council. He said that was accomplished through a series of meetings with area politicians and community leaders, as well as sport organizations from throughout the province.
"It’s very important to (the Canada Games Council) that there’s backup within the community," Cristall said. "I think we did as good as we’ve got. We were expanding on the words that we sent in. …They came so they understood what we sent in on paper and to clear up any misconceptions. For us and for them, it was to find out if this was a group of people that can get together and do this because 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday. That’s as big as it gets in my lifetime because I don’t think I’ll make 200 and it’s the 50th anniversary for the Games. This is a big one."
The bid evaluation committee will present its report to the Canada Games Council in early December during a meeting at Montreal. If the report is approved, a joint Canada Games Council-Government of Manitoba announcement will take place.
In her remarks to a packed reception at Assiniboine Community College’s Manitoba Institute for Culinary Arts, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst compared the visit to a "24-hour job interview."
"We are still in the evaluation process and we have a lot of work to do," Carew said. "We’ll be going through all the information and will be coming up with a draft report for the Premier, discussing it with the city and then coming up with our final report."
Decter Hirst said the bid committee should hear in a couple of weeks whether the bid package will need to be tweaked, but was pleased with the efforts made to get the Games.
"The one thing Brandon does really well is host events," Decter Hirst said. "It’s in us and it has to come out. We are a city that hosts champions and 2017 is a wonderful opportunity for the rest of the country to see what we do so well."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 11, 2012