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Games report to be unveiled
Committee studying 2023 Canada Winter Games bid to hold meetings next week

Shane Magee
Northern News Services
Friday, January 22, 2016

A long-anticipated report looking at whether Yellowknife is suited to host the 2023 Canada Winter Games is set to be released next week.

It will be the first time the draft report, created by a city council committee tasked with looking at a possible bid, has been publicly available. Its release has been repeatedly pushed back as more aspects of the potential bid are examined. City council has until the end of February to make a decision on submitting a bid.

The committee, aiming to gather public feedback, will first hold a media briefing Wednesday. The next day, the public has been invited to RSVP with the city for a free breakfast starting at 7:30 a.m. at the Explorer Hotel where the report will be presented by the committee. That evening, again at the Explorer, an open house will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.

On Saturday, Jan. 30, the committee will hold another open house at the Multiplex from 9 to 11 a.m.

According to a city news release about the meetings, feedback gathered will be included in the final report which will be presented to city council in February.

Six of eight councillors told Yellowknifer prior to the Oct. 19 municipal election they did not support a bid. Coun. Niels Konge reaffirmed that position while Coun. Steve Payne said he'd have to see what the report says before making up his mind.

The meetings come more than a week after the board of directors of one of the city's sporting organizations voted to support the city bidding for the Games.

The Yellowknife Ski Club board voted five to two in favour of the bid at a meeting Tuesday.

According to club president John Stephenson, those in favour spoke of the legacy the Games could have for the city and the club, located along the old highway.

Stephenson, one of eight board members, did not vote on the endorsement. Stephenson said another factor in favour of the Games was that it could entice future national-level sporting events.

The club would be one of the venues for the event and an early estimate pegged infrastructure improvements for the Games at the site at around $900,000. However, not all board members were on the same page, he said.

"Some board members had significant concerns and reservations about undertaking the Canada Winter Games," Stephenson said.

Those concerns echoed those expressed by other groups, such as the availability of volunteers and the city's ability to host an event of this scale.

Other factors cited were concerns about widening trails for events and the maintenance demands that could create for the club in the future.

Stephenson is a member of the city committee created to study a potential Games bid.

One of the outstanding questions has been the construction and funding of an athlete's village. The GNWT has repeatedly stated it will wait for an official decision by city council before committing to funding for athlete's housing, which would likely be transformed to seniors or affordable housing after the sporting event.

Yellowknifer requested an update Monday form the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs about its stance on funding an athlete's village.

Spokesperson Jenny Aitken stated in an e-mail that a representative would answer questions at the Thursday breakfast.

- with files from John McFadden

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