Last Thursday it was announced that the City of Brandon lost the bid for the 2017 Canada Summer Games. Much of the “blame” has been placed on the fact that the Sportsplex pool has only six lanes as opposed to the standard and desired eight lanes.
Subsequently, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz publicly stated he would work to see the games remain in Brandon. How he intends to do so is not known to me but it seems this would be a bonus and indicates to an extent that Winnipeg is not overly interested in hosting the 2017 Summer Games and supports Brandon’s bid over being the host city themselves.
On Page A6 of the Saturday edition of the Brandon Sun, a story was printed regarding the much needed upgrades to the Sportsplex pool including a liner, mechanical systems (pumps and filtration) and the waterslide. It appears the decision to now move ahead with the mechanical systems upgrade based on a six-lane requirement versus a system capable of eight lanes while maintaining proper turnover rates has been made. Why? It is this lack of forward-thinking that landed us in this situation to begin with.
According to the article the last mechanical upgrades were made in 1996. If we are to assume that the system is then viable for 15-20 years that means in 15-20 years we have achieved what? Maintained a six-lane swimming pool forgoing any ability to have a large-scale swimming event for that period of time. “Those who do not learn from mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them” comes to my mind.
Why not install a system capable of handling a proper eight-lane swimming venue now? Can the bid not be salvaged, especially since the mayor of Winnipeg has indicated his support of Brandon still being capable of hosting the event? We have four years until the games occur.
Since the pool-liner is also in need of replacement can not a longer term vision be realized? Expansion to eight lanes to coincide with the future liner replacement since the mechanical system could be already capable of handling the extra volume of water in advance of the expansion?
Is it not worth the economic benefits hosting the games would bring? Was not the $3 per night accommodation tax meant to “draw and encourage more events to the Wheat City?” Could some of that revenue not be allocated for the expansion? What about a voluntary donation system at the Sportsplex — an “expansion fund” or a small user-fee increase, even just 50-cents per visitor with the additional revenue being dedicated to the expansion?
It is not unrealistic to think we as a community can achieve this goal and reap the benefits of not only the 2017 Canada Summer Games but also additional events in the future. I would even surmise some of the funding would potentially be donated by some of the local business owners that would directly benefit from having a full restaurant, or hotel or whatever the case may be for the duration of the games.
The current administration was elected on the basis of prosperous growth and community expansion. Why then would we keep the “status quo” on this matter when it has already been clearly identified as having potentially caused us economic harm with regards to the 2017 Canada Summer Games?
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 15, 2013