Even though the 2019 Canada Winter Games are being hosted in central Alberta’s largest city, the committee in charge of running it is focusing on it being a regional event.
And that means trying to bring in communities from around the area, in part to draw support as well as hopefully lure volunteers to help fill the estimated 5,500 positions needed. The games will run Feb. 15 to March 3 next year.
Steven Kwasny, games manager of partnerships and special events, was the guest speaker at the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce meeting held at the Ponoka Youth Centre March 20.
“One of the big things for us is that it is not just Red Deer’s games, but these are very much an event for central Alberta,” he said.
“We are excited about how much will be happening on top of the sports, including a major arts and culture festival that might be the largest winter music festival held in Alberta. It will be an opportunity to highlight central Alberta to itself and to the rest of Canada.”
Kwasny explained the 18-day long games is estimated to attract 100,000 visitors and will leave some legacy investments behind that will help area athletes to train closer to home in world class facilities.
He noted the event will have to rely on neighbouring community support to reach the needed number of volunteers.
“The games will require an army to help deliver them. What we are asking for is a commitment of 32 hours, understanding the need to be flexible and that no one knows what they are doing a year out,” Kwasny stated.
“We will invest the time in training and there will be a pretty cool volunteer uniform piece sponsored by Columbia apparel.”
Two other interesting aspects Kwasny spoke of were the education portion — called Catch the Spirit — that will be rolled out in the fall to area schools as well as the torch relay that will start in October.
“This will be the first Canada Games to have a national torch relay,” he stated. “It will be lit as normal in Ottawa. Then we will take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean and head west, stopping in a number of past host communities to reaffirm — that as we build attention and focus on central Alberta — and remind people that this is truly a national event.”
He added that the ticket program is slated to be launched later this spring.
To learn more about the Games volunteer aspect, head to https://canadagames.ca/2019/volunteer where there is more information and an application form.
Barry Grant, chamber president, provided the membership with an update on next month’s trade fair.
Set for Apr. 27 to 29, Grant stated it is about 80 per cent sold and the curling rink will be used to house some vendors and activities this year.
The Ponoka Piston Poppers vehicle club will be showing off members’ cars and trucks as one of the special attractions during the Harry Potter-themed event called ‘Experience the Magic of Business.’
Alongside a magician and an owl, kids and adults alike will be able to take part in some virtual reality gaming experiences as well as participate in a game of Quidditch.