Our moment has arrived.
On September 4, 2014, an announcement was made that changed the landscape of our fair city:
“The host city of the 2019 Canada Winter Games is the City of Red Deer!”
In the two years leading up to that moment, and four and a half years since, the community effort to create a showcase event to welcome 20,000 visitors has been nothing short of superb.
I’m not going to insult you by pretending that Red Deer is a perfect city. We’re far from it. We have a lot of issues to deal with and lot of great people working hard to resolve them despite a wide range of opinions on how to do so.
For the next two weeks, with Canada’s amateur sports spotlight shining brightly on Red Deer, we have an opportunity to put our differences aside and show the country what we’re all about.
Our city has hosted big sporting events before (Brier, Scotties, World Juniors, Memorial Cup, Canadian Finals Rodeo, to name a few) but nothing like this. The Canada Games are on another level altogether, and you’ll see that starting today.
The economic spinoff from the next two weeks is estimated at more than $130 million. At a time when the economy is still in recovery mode, that’s pretty good.
The new facilities built as a direct result of hosting the Games – Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, Servus Arena, Setters Place at Great Chief Park, QE II/Gaetz Ave. Interchange, Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza – have unquestionably changed Red Deer for the better. These aren’t things that’ll be torn down and hauled away the moment the Games are over. These are facilities Red Deer and area will enjoy for decades. Fifty years from now the impact from these Games will still be felt.
Remember the names of the athletes you’ll be watching over the next two weeks because in many cases this won’t be the last you hear from them. Yes, for some this will be the pinnacle of their athletic career, but many others will at some point be representing our country on the world stage. About 34 per cent of Canada’s athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics were Canada Games alumni.
And if sports aren’t your thing, get down to the 52° North Music + Cultural Festival featuring a “who’s who” of premiere Canadian musical talent. Or take in some of the other events throughout the city from now through March 2.
It’s been an honour being a small part of the journey that has brought us today, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for the next two weeks to showcase our city to the country.
Red Deer is Ready.
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