Yesterday, the Niagara Region welcomed the Canada Games Council’s bid evaluation committee, creating a whirlwind tour around Niagara. The tour included stops at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, Brock University, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and the Meridian Centre, all essential pieces in Niagara and the Niagara Sport Commission’s push to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
“There are very specific hosting standards we have developed over the last 50 years,” said Wayne Carew, chairman of the Canada Games Selection Committee. “There are specific things that we are looking for and things that we have to see on paper.But it’s also important we hear from the people that are going to deliver the Games. Paper is paper, but people are unique.”
Three other Ontario regions — Ottawa, Sudbury and Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge — have also submitted bids to host the Games.
“We are looking to see if the people have thought all of it through,” Carew said. “It’s one thing to put on paper that you are going to raise $30 million, but how are you going to do it? How are you going to move the athletes around? How are you going to feed them? What will the athletic experience be like? It’s important to remember that this is about the athletes. It’s not about the organizing committees; it’s not about the Canada Games Council. It’s about the experience for thousands of potential Olympians and professional athletes. Sidney Crosby competed in the Canada Games. So did Catriona LeMay Doan, who is on the evaluation committee. The host community will get a chance to see Canada’s Olympians and future pro athletes before they are famous.”
Niagara’s bid committee has spent nearly two years and thousands of hours in planning the bid. A 200-page comprehensive proposal was submitted on January 30th.
“There are a lot of moving parts to something like today,” Doug Hamilton, chairman of Niagara’s bid committee, said during Wednesday’s regional showcase. “We introduced them to our community, our venues and our businesses as well as showed them the support we have. For us, it is sort of like a sporting event. We spent hours and days preparing — and when it finally arrived — we were just relieved to get going. We are excited about having the opportunity to showcase all we have to offer.”
A successful bid would bring about 3,600 young athletes and their coaches to Niagara in 2021. The athletes would compete in 17 events over 18 days and attract between 20,000 to 30,000 visitors to the area. The bid committee estimates the event could generate more than $200 million in economic benefits.
The provincial, federal and regional levels of government have pledged more than $30 million combined if Niagara’s bid is successful. Addition funding from the Canada Games Council also flows to the host community.
The Canada Games Council will announce its decision in Toronto on March 30th.