The announcement was made by the premier back in February, but the City and County of Grande Prairie are finally celebrating. They will be hosting the Alberta Summer Games in 2018, and Chair Lionel Robins says they plan to highlight the entire region.
“We want to tie in a lot of the things that there is to do around here [like] the museums; we’ve got lakes and mountains right around us, and lots of campsites and fishing and hunting. We kind of want to use it as an opportunity to drag the whole family up; bring the whole family and stay.”
Part of that will be a large opening ceremonies that are intended to be a monumental event to bring more families up. However, Robins knows some people have question the timing.
“There’s always going to be up and down economic times and they said, ‘is this the right time?’ From what I’ve discovered looking at the processes, if you do it right it is the right time because the spin-off is many times more than the cost if you do it right; if that’s your goal. Otherwise it just becomes an expense.”
Robins estimates the games will cost between $1.7 and $2 million, but that includes volunteer hours, gifts-in-kind and donations. The province is supporting the event with $420,000 through Alberta Sport Connection but the economic impact is expected to be $3 million.
Over the past 30 years, Grande Prairie has hosted the 1980 Alberta Winter Games, the 1986 Alberta 55 Plus Games and the 2000 Alberta Summer Games. In the past year alone it also put on the Home Hardware Canada Cup, Scotties Tournament of Hearts, Tour of Alberta and Hometown Hockey. Alberta Sport Connection Chair John Short says the City and County’s joint bid showed experience.
“Those who were involved in putting it together either were involved in the previous events that have been here… or they just took a look at what had happened here previously and said, ‘Hey!They know how to do it!”
Short came up to Grande Prairie earlier this week to celebrate the area getting the games, and to pitch in with the planning process.