Another step in the process for the territory and City of Whitehorse to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games was underway this week as officials with the Games’ bid evaluation committee visited the city to see first-hand the facilities and plans for the national sporting event.
Speaking to reporters during a media availability on Oct. 13, Anthony Everett, chair of the evaluation committee, said a delegation of 10 arrived in the territory Oct. 12 and has been meeting with local officials, taking in the facilities that are in place as well as looking at plans for the Games and facilities that will need to be built.
They also took in a demonstration of the Arctic sports. Local organizers planning the Games are hoping to have Arctic sports included in the competitions for the 2027 Games. The sports were a demonstration event in 2007, the first and so far only time the Games have been hosted in the territory.
“I think we’d have some more questions to ask around how other territorial governments and other provinces will engage and bring athletes forward to compete in those events,” Everett said, speaking to the possibility.
“But I’m very encouraged because it looks like a very exciting opportunity for athletes to try new sports and they look like a lot of fun.”
Also under consideration for the Games are new ice surfaces at Takhini Arena, whether that means renovating the current rink and adding another ice surface to it or building an entirely new structure with two ice surfaces and the ability to host the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games.
Everett said that decision will be one made at the local level, with the bid committee’s role focused on ensuring the facilities meet the required standards.
“I think that’s for the community, the territory to do what’s best for the legacy,” he said, pointing out that Whitehorse continues to benefit from the Canada Games Centre built in 2007.
“This is a remarkable facility, not just here; this is remarkable in Canada and we get to see what’s available in Canada,” he said. “So more assets for the community is probably a good thing, but we’re just focused on the four [ice] sheets.”
Everett noted one of the highlights of the visit had been the fire circle and welcome from First Nations.
The local bid committee is proposing a Games that would centre around a theme of reconciliation. Along with the proposed inclusion of Arctic sports in the competition, a $1-million post-Games trust fund would be created, aimed at promoting and supporting Indigenous sports and athletes, and a cultural festival highlighting Yukon First Nations cultures to the rest of the country would be held during the Games.
The Games are estimated to cost about $37 million in addition to the approximate $60 million for an athlete’s village that would later be converted to student housing at Yukon University and about $115 million for the new arena space at the Takhini Arena site.
It’s anticipated the national sporting event could generate between $80 million and $110 million in economic activity with nearly 4,000 people expected to visit the Yukon for the Games.
Community Services Minister Richard Mostyn, Whitehorse mayor Laura Cabott and Yukon MP Brendan Hanley also noted they are pleased to welcome the bid evaluation committee to the territory in an Oct. 14 statement.
“Our government fully supports the concept of co-hosting these Games with the city,” Mostyn said. “I look forward to the results of the committee’s visit and to continue working with our federal, municipal and First Nations partners to make the bid committee’s full vision a reality.”
It’s anticipated recommendations by the Canada Games Council will be made in November with a decision on whether the city and territory will host the Games likely to be announced in December.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org