16 June 2011
by Cathy Ellis, Rocky Mountain Outlook

It’s official! Banff and Canmore are going after the 2014 Alberta Winter Games thanks to the generous financial support of municipalities in the Bow Valley.

At its meeting Monday (June 13), Banff’s politicians unanimously jumped on board with a $150,000 grant, which comes hot on the heels of Canmore council’s same financial commitment a week earlier.

“Yes! All right!” said a jubilant John McIsaac, co-chairman of the 2014 Banff/Canmore Alberta Winter Games Committee, as Banff council’s decision drew loud applause.

“We’re ecstatic. Now we can move forward to the next step. My idea is to have a games Alberta has never seen before.”

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen said she appreciated all of the work by the bid committee and is very pleased to see the bid move forward.

“I know that Banff town council was cautious in their support when the idea was first presented, but I appreciate this council taking the request so seriously and asking questions they needed answered to be able to support this with complete confidence,” she said.

“I am certain Banff and Canmore will be successful in this bid.”

The total budget for the games is projected to be just under $1.7 million.

In addition to securing the contributions from the area’s municipalities and provincial grants, the bid committee also has to fundraise between $300,000 and $400,000.

“I know we have to go out and do some fundraising, but I know we can do it,” said McIsaac.

Banff last hosted the games in 1976.

The three-day event from Feb. 6-9, 2014 would attract about 2,800 young athletes, coaches and technicians, participating in 24 different sports.

One of the proposals is to have some demonstration sports, such as ice-climbing and indoor rock climbing. The committee also hopes to expand the number of sports offered in the downhill realm, so as to include skier cross and boarder cross.

McIsaac said he expects the games will draw about 10,000 visitors to “play, shop and spend money here”, spending roughly $2.5 million at local businesses.

“But the real impact is really to do with the 2,800 individuals aged 12 to 17,” he said.

“How do you put a price tag on the impact this is going to have on these children?”

Many past communities have ended the games with a surplus, ranging from as low as $7,652 to as high as $208,754.

The Banff-Canmore bid committee is planning on a balanced budget, but hopes to put $100,000 back into each of the two communities as a legacy fund when the games are over.

Councillor Leslie Taylor voiced her support for the games bid, saying it was simply the Bow Valley’s turn to host the event.

“Many young Banff and Canmore athletes have enjoyed the hospitality of other communities in the decades since we last hosted,” she said.

Taylor did, however, successfully convince her colleagues to put in writing that any surplus from the games comes back to the communities on a 50-50 basis.

“I would like to be clear that any surplus is allocated 50-50 to the two communities equally and allocated as the councils of the day see fit,” she said.

Currently, Strathmore and Wood Buffalo are also submitting bids.

“How can any other community compete against this bid? It’s so well done,” said Councillor Chip Olver.

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