$3M will be used for capital improvements at Great Chief Park, the rest for operations
Red Deer will receive more than $11 million over the next three years as preparations ramp up for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, federal officials announced this week.
That includes $3 million for sport-related infrastructure enhancements at Great Chief Park, which will play host to long-track speed skating.
The remaining money will go toward operations for the event.
“We all know how investing in sport contributes to strong, resilient communities. It builds great athletes, it builds healthy kids, it leaves social, economic and cultural legacies in the community,” said Carla Qualtrough, the minister of sport.
“There’s just no downside as far as I’m concerned to hosting and investing in the Canada Games.”
More than 2,700 athletes are expected at the event — scheduled to run Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019 — which Qualtrough said will have a large economic impact.
“You’re talking tens of thousands of people who will be coming to Red Deer in 22 months. It’s like the country is coming to Red Deer. There will be national coverage, there will be people from all 13 provinces and territories.”
Having competed in swimming in the 1988 and 1992 Paralympic Games — where she won three medals — Qualtrough said events like the Canada Games provide competitors with lifelong memories.
“People talk for the rest of their lives about their experience, whether it was on the field of play, in terms of how well they did in competition, or off the field of play in terms of the friends they met,” she said. “The stories are endless and it’s a really exciting place to be.”
The event is held every two years, alternating between summer and winter sports and features the country’s best athletes in various age groups.
Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer said the Games will provide a much-needed economic boost, and hopes to show off the city on a national stage.
“It stimulates our local economy in a time when we need it the most,” she said.
“People who live in Red Deer or visit for any length of time know what an incredibly dynamic community we are, but the fact we’re able to have an event where we can welcome 20,000 Canadians … it gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase Red Deer to the rest of Canada.”