A light dusting of snow fell on Whitehorse during the morning of Sept. 22. Perhaps it was pathetic fallacy, or just good timing, as the bid announcement to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games was made at the Grey Mountain Room at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre.
“The Canada Games are unlike any other sporting event in our great country,” said Premier Sandy Silver. “It’s the largest amateur multi-sport event in Canada.”
Whitehorse hosted the Canada Winter Games in 2007, the first time they were held North of 60. Silver said the Yukon government and City of Whitehorse learned the many “positive impacts” of the Games.
“It doesn’t take much to see the legacy of 2007 and what it brought to us not only as a territory, but a community,” said Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Peter Johnston. “It (CGC) is one of probably the most well-used facilities in the territory.”
Johnston said the prospects of hosting the Games are exciting because of all the possibilities there are to get creative and the legacies that can be left behind.
Kwanlin Dün First Nation councillor Jessie Dawson said that with “gatherings … cancelled, people being sick, and longstanding hurt being brought back to the surface” in the last year, the Games could be a unifying event for the community.
“It fills my heart to see our community moving forward and coming together with announcements like this one today,” said Dawson. “The sports and cultural activities that come with events like the Canada Games made us stronger and healthier.
“Events like this bring people together from across the country to learn from each other and to understand each other better.”
Mayor Dan Curtis said the community “never waivers” when it comes to hosting events of this magnitude.
Curtis said the 2007 Games brought 7,500 visitors to Whitehorse. The Games contributed an estimated $75.2 million to the Yukon’s gross domestic product and generated $176.7 million in economic activity.
Anthony Everett, the Canada Games Council board director and 2027 bid evaluation committee chair, said the Yukon isn’t bidding against another jurisdiction.
“This is unique in that the Yukon territory and the city are the sole bid,” said Everett. “It’s our job to evaluate: are you technically able to host the requirements for the Games and do we approve it based on the standards that the Canada Games are responsible for.”
There are some challenges, but Everett said he has full confidence that the Games will be a success in Whitehorse.
At the head of the 2027 Canada Winter Games Bid Committee is chair Piers McDonald, who helped bring the Games to Whitehorse in 2007.
Now that the bid is officially launched, McDonald said the next few months, up until next spring will be “a lot of grunt work.”
“We will go through all the sports, do a full analysis of the facilities and make sure we understand clearly what needs to be done for each facility to marry that up with the sport standards for that sport,” said McDonald.
The biggest challenge, McDonald said, will be building the athlete’s village.
“We don’t have one,” said McDonald. “We have to find a way to build one not just for two weeks, but we have to make sure that the legacy will last for decades afterward.”
The village from the last Games are now the dorms and senior housing at Yukon University.
Another ice rink is also suspected to be needed, said McDonald. In 2007, there were four rinks but the Stan McGowan Arena was torn down after the Games.
McDonald and his team will have 13 months to put the bid together.
Contact John Tonin at email@example.com