Congratulations to the local Alberta Winter Games bid committee on its hard work in showcasing our Bow Valley communities and landing the 2014 event.
The fact that thousands of competitors, coaches, family members and spectators from around our province will land in the Bow Valley to participate in the Feb. 6-9 celebration of amateur athletics is bound to be a boon to our communities.
In all, it is expected that close to 3,000 athletes aged 11-17 will participate in 24 sports at the games, which are expected to cost $1.7 million.
Of course, the work isn’t done. Even with provincial ($420,000 in grants announced this week) and municipal funding ($150,000 per town), a further $300,000 to $400,000 needs to be raised and many volunteers will have to put their best foot forward.
We’re convinced the event will be a massive success, given our communities’ tendency to pitch in and lend a hand – both financially and volunteer-wise.
Kudos also go to the Towns of Banff and Canmore councils for the forethought of looking into the future and seeing the wide-ranging benefits of having a province-wide showcase in the communities.
Bid committee statistics shows that, post-games, the event could end up in the black. Another important aspect of the games is that they will produce an economic and tourism windfall for local businesses.
Many people are already aware of the international-scale events held in the valley; the Lake Louise alpine world cup and Canmore Nordic Centre world cup skiing and biking events, for example, but a provincial winter games will showcase virtually all of the local facilities as practically every venue in Banff and Canmore will be in use during the athletic onslaught.
In the end, a single winter games event could result in decades’ worth of goodwill and return visits by attendees who enjoy their stay in our valley. It’s not hard to imagine a gold medal winner in any given event wishing to return to the scene of their glory at some point in their future.
Provincial timetables had the official announcement of who will host the event slated for November.
The fact that this announcement comes now at the beginning of September is a testament to the strength of the bid, the communities that are involved and the facilities our valley boasts.
And, like the 1988 Olympic Games, with a major focus on the Canmore Nordic Centre, it’s likely that a successful Alberta Winter Games could spark more of our young people to become involved in sport in a positive way. It is possible we could see our own homegrown young athletes on the podium at this event in 2014 and inspired to reach the Olympics as well.
It’s happened before.
This valley is already well-known in Canada and around the world as a first-class outdoor recreation destination; hosting the 2014 Alberta Winter Games should only cement our reputation further.
Now the hard work really begins. Winning the bid is the first step – organizing, planning and fundraising are the next ones.
But above all, volunteers from our communities are what is needed to make this event a success.
Let’s all sign up and get involved!