The City of Whitehorse has been asked to host the Arctic Winter Games two years earlier than scheduled.
Nunavut was slated to host the 2020 games but is unable to fulfill its duties. If Whitehorse does not host, there is no alternative community for the 2020 games, administration told city council at the May 16 meeting.
The territorial government asked the city of Whitehorse to “step up” to fill the hosting gap, said Linda Rapp, the acting city manager.
The city has already set aside a budget of $200,000 for the games, which is its cash-in-hand contribution, said Rapp. The city will also contribute in-kind services, such as use of facilities and transportation, she said.
It’s not known how much the 2020 games will cost, because the host society that will be in charge of the event — which is also responsible for creating the budget — has not been formed yet.
A large amount of the funding for the games comes from fundraising, which the host society is responsible for, said Rapp, in addition to various government grants.
When Whitehorse last hosted the games in 2012, the cost for the event was $6.4 million, of which the federal government contributed $1 million.
The territorial government has not yet pledged an exact amount of money for the games because the legislature is sitting, Rapp said. But the government has drafted a memorandum of agreement with the city to cover any deficit it might face from hosting the games.
“The Yukon government is not in a position yet to be able to say ‘we will give you $2.1 million or $2.9 million’ or whatever it is,” she said. “The MOA is really the stop-gap the city needs so that it knows the city won’t be left funding the games.”
Traditionally, Rapp said, the host city is the only one who signs on to be financially responsible for the games, but in this case the territorial government is functioning as a co-signer to the deal.
“It does commit them to some financial support but it doesn’t say how much,” Rapp said.
In this way, the MOA essentially functions as a promise that the city will not be left holding the funding bag.
“I think the biggest thing for the city is … if YG is co-signing with us and promising to pick up any shortfall, that’s almost as good as saying how much we will get.”
The MOA was not available to the public at the May 16 council meeting.
Rapp said the MOA was currently with the Yukon government’s legal department.
City administration said via email that, “The Yukon government is still reviewing the draft MOA as well so they requested that it not be made public until it was approved. Council has a copy so they know what they are voting on.”
Exactly when the details of the MOA will be made public is unknown.
City council will vote on whether to sign the MOA May 26.
Contact Lori Garrison at email@example.com