Fort McMurray welcomes Games committee

Hope for Wood Buffalo to host upcoming Alberta Games

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor

Councillor Keith McGrath, MacDonald Island CEO Annette Antoniak, Councillor Lance Bussieres and Steve Andrejiw were out to show their support for the Games’ bids in Fort McMurray.  PHOTO: Verna Murphy, Connect Weekly

Councillor Keith McGrath, MacDonald Island CEO Annette Antoniak, Councillor Lance Bussieres and Steve Andrejiw were out to show their support for the Games’ bids in Fort McMurray. PHOTO: Verna Murphy, Connect Weekly

The region recently had its world-class sports and entertainment facilities, along with community fans, examined to see if Wood Buffalo would make the best host for two upcoming Alberta Games competitions.

Currently touring Alberta for prospective Games hosts, the provincial bid committee (made of Alberta Sport Connection (ASC) volunteers) came to Fort McMurray on November 17, as the municipality and organizers applied to host the 2017 55 Plus Games, and the 2018 Alberta Winter Games.

The day-tour started with a seniors’ breakfast at the Royal Canadian Legion, and later a pep rally at Father Turcotte. After the organized tour events, the bid committee toured other places in Fort McMurray before seeing the facilities at MacDonald Island and Shell Place.

Fort McMurray has not hosted the 55 Plus Games since 2003, and the last time Fort McMurray hosted the Winter Games was in 1992.

“Everything we saw, and the enthusiasm during the tour today was fantastic,” said Fischer, who said the facilities they saw during the tour were the best in Canada.

“Everything we saw, and the enthusiasm during the tour today was fantastic,” said Fischer, who said the facilities they saw during the tour were the best in Canada. Fischer said that while they knew the facilities were top notch, they also wanted to see community participation and excitement because that is what makes the Games great, and Fort McMurray delivered this during the tour.

Luana Bussieres, from the 55 Plus Bid committee of Fort McMurray said there was a great turnout out at all the events that were held for the welcoming tour.

“We put together a bid committee that was passionate about hosting these games. There is a shift with these Games, as it will be (both) winter and summer games… we thought it was a great time to partner with Alberta Sport Connection to host these games. If we win the bid, it will be a win-win situation. Both for our seniors and for our community,” said Bussieres.

Fischer said the bid committee would be submitting their recommendation to the province by the end of the month, and then it is up to the province to decide on who will host the games. Fischer would not reveal who Fort McMurray is competing against for the bids. And there is no set time limit on when the province will award the bids.

The Bid Committee chair, Al Fischer said, over the years, the 55 Plus Games were harder to hold in Northern Alberta, due to the lack of accommodations vacancy.

“When the oilsands are busy, the hotels were full. So, it was hard to host the games with no place to put the seniors,” said Fischer.

MP David Yurdiga, representatives from MLA Brian Jean and MLA Tany Yao’s offices, and the Mayor and three councillors all were in attendance at various events during the day.

Mayor Melissa Blake said she hoped the Games would be awarded to Fort McMurray because it is great exposure, but it also encourages the local youth opportunities to participate in these types of events, as they grow up. Blake said even though the report has not been presented on the 2015 Summer Games yet, she had no worries about going ahead in trying to host them both.

“The one reassurance I had to have was that the community support was there for each of these Games, and I have been blown away by what I have seen on this tour,” said Blake. “I know certainly that we have made the right call, and it’s really the citizens, the sporting organizations, the sponsors, and volunteers that get behind these Games that give us the opportunity to show how wonderful we can be when we host them.”

The 2017 Alberta 55 Plus Games would bring an estimated 1,500 people to Fort McMurray, while the 2018 Alberta Winter Games would have about 2,800 participants.

– Connect Weekly –