Over the next several months, I aim to provide central Albertans a bit of an insider’s look at what is happening with the 2019 Canada Winter Games as we march towards February 15, 2019, and welcome the nation to Red Deer. There is much going on behind the scenes, with many interesting, exciting and challenging aspects to delivering an event of this scope and scale for the first time in Red Deer.
In 2011, Lyn Radford, as a Board member of Alberta Sport Connection, heard the official word that it would be Alberta’s turn to host a Canada Winter Games in 2019. It did not take long for her to understand that this would be Red Deer’s big chance to do something never before done and possibly transform our city. This opportunity was evident to Lyn and, as she shared it, it became evident to others as well. The administration and Council with the City of Red Deer also saw this great opportunity and it was not long before Red Deer College, school boards and other community organizations saw it too.
To bid and win the right to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games would provide an opportunity to shape the future of Red Deer and central Alberta and provide a platform, unlike any other event, to elevate the region in the eyes of the nation.
Major events, like the Canada Games, only come around once in a generation. The 2019 Games is only the third time a Canada Games has been hosted in Alberta, with Lethbridge (1975) and Grande Prairie (1995) as previous Host Communities. Once-in-a-generation events can transform a community if the right vision, leadership and execution emerges. To win the right to host the 2019 Games, a team of community leaders took a year to build the plan and engage central Albertans. The challenge was significant, with other bid hopefuls capable of delivering a great Canada Games, but on September 4, 2014, three years after the initial vision began to emerge, the 2019 Games was awarded to Red Deer.
With the stage set and the foundation built, a spirit of collaboration and community engagement began to define the 2019 Games. Leadership was emerging on many levels; in the community, the City and the college and it brought with it a powerful team that would shape the road ahead.
The vision and future legacy of the 2019 Games was forged in the early days of the city coming together for the bid and initial awarding of the Games. What is on display in 2019 is a large reflection of the initial steps in the journey - the discussions held, the partnerships formed and challenges overcome. The 2019 Games is a life-shaping experience for the many athletes, coaches, officials and volunteers. The 2019 Games is also the defining moment for Red Deer and central Alberta.
I am revisiting the early beginnings of the 2019 Games, as it is so important to where we are today. With over $200 million dollars’ worth of capital project directly or indirectly initiated because of the 2019 Games coming to Red Deer, this is clearly a life-shaping Games experience for the community. The 2019 Games story is one of great athletic performances and accomplishments by the best and brightest athletes in the country. But the story is also about a community vision and a powerful collaboration of leaders and organizations who stepped up and said “this is our moment."
With just under seven months to the Games, it is the foundation of the community leadership and vision that continues to shape our culture, our planning and execution, as we march on to the Opening Ceremony on February 15, 2019.
Scott Robinson - CEO, 2019 Canada Winter Games
NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to [email protected].
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