Yukon MP Larry Bagnell announced $1.5 million in funding for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games on behalf of Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport, at a press conference in Whitehorse on May 22. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Federal government announces $1.5 million in funding for 2020 Arctic Winter Games

The funding makes the Government of Canada the single largest contributor to the games

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell announced up to $1.5 million in funding over two years for the Whitehorse 2020 Arctic Winter Games on behalf of Minister of Science and Sport Kirsty Duncan at a press conference on May 22.

“Our government is the largest single investor in the Canadian sport system, which includes helping communities host games like these,” said Bagnell. “These games present incredible opportunities for the host community predictably in terms of economic benefits, sport and community development.”

The $1.5 million includes $250,000 earmarked for the opening ceremonies and 50th anniversary celebrations, but the remaining $1.25 million is general core funding and not tied to a specific line item or project.

Asked about what expenses the funding could provide for, George Arcand, president of the host society, listed some of the upcoming costs.

“Beds, food, transportation – you can go on and on about things that are required to make the games work,” said Arcand.

Also speaking at the press conference were Yukon Minister of Community Services John Streicker and Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis.

Streicker spoke about the federal efforts to assist smaller communities in hosting major sporting events.

“I was down in Red Deer for the Canada Winter games … and we were discussing with Minister Duncan about what these games are like and I got to talk to all the ministers of sports from across the country about how special these games are,” said Streicker. “Lots of provinces have a sense of competitive games, multi-sport games, but what they don’t have a sense of is the type of camaraderie it builds across the North.”

The $1.5 million is the largest single contribution to the 2020 AWG budget, which Arcand said is approximately $7 million.

Included in that number is in-kind donations — like the majority of the support from the city — as well as cash contributions.

“For the in-kind as well as for the City of Whitehorse, someone has to pay for that — it’s not free,” said Curtis. “So we budget a financial cost to it and pay for it. So the taxpayer is actually paying for a portion of the games through the contribution of in-kind and cash. Everything is accounted for down to the dot.”

Streicker added that core funding is always accounted for and tracking.

“Every contribution agreement that comes, whether it comes from the territorial government or the federal government, there will always be a set of accounting around how the money is spent,” said Streicker.

There are just under 10 months to go until the games start.

“The Arctic Winter Games are about so much more than competition. They’re about celebrating our culture, they’re about building meaningful relationships and lasting legacies, and they’re about fostering northern pride,” said Arcand. “As you can imagine, organizing an event of this magnitude takes a lot of volunteer hours, a lot of hard work from our staff and many, many community partnerships.”

The 2020 Arctic Winter Games are scheduled to run March 16 to 21, 2020 in Whitehorse. This marks the seventh time Whitehorse has hosted the games and will be the 25th iteration of the games.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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