NWT Ski Division Letter to the Yellowknife City Councillors

Publication date: 
February 17th, 2016

To his Worship Mayor Mark Heyck and Yellowknife City Councillors Rebecca Alty, Adrian Bell, Linda Bussey, Niels Konge, Shauna Morgan, Julian Morse, Steve Payne & Rommel Silverio.

This letter is in support of City of Yellowknife hosting the Canada Winter Games in 2023. At the February 11th board meeting of the NWT Ski Division, a motion was unanimously passed to “support the bid by the City of Yellowknife to host the Canada Winter Games in 2023”.

Events such as the Arctic Winter Games and Canada Winter Games are much more than one or two week “parties” for athletes as the Executive Director of the NWT Chamber of Commerce stated a couple of days ago. Rather they are the culmination of years of hard work by the volunteers, coaches and athletes that participate in them. Games are an aspiration for youth to work towards and they are an opportunity for athlete to strive towards a goal, a dream. Games are more than the infrastructure required to host them, rather they are a social dynamic that creates a common purpose, an event for communities to gather around and support. But most importantly they are also the opportunity to create a sport development legacy for youth, for the competitive athletes and recreational residents of Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories. Adequate facilities are the key to delivering quality sport programming and producing competitive athletes. Many of you have been active in sport as athletes, coaches and volunteers over the years and I trust that you intimately know the impact that having access to good facilities has on enabling good programming.

The NWT Ski Division believes that the City of Yellowknife being host to the 2023 Canada Winter Games will create a legacy of enhanced facilities across multiple sports that will strengthen overall NWT participation in sport. And this legacy is especially important for the NWT Nordic sports, which has such a rich and storied history from the Firth sisters a generation ago to Brendan Green today and the younger skiers and biathletes whose names we do not yet know.

The 2023 Canada Winter Games facilities will benefit Yellowknife residents on a daily basis but they will also benefit all of Team NWT’s members in multiple sports from multiple communities as athletes will have to travel less to compete in national-level facilities. In the Nordic sports Yellowknife will be in a better position to host territorial development camps and other high level competition, such as the Western Canadian Championships. It is clear there will be economic spinoffs for years to come. For example since Whitehorse hosted the 2007 Canada Winter Games the city has hosted the National Ski Championships twice already and will host them again for a third time in March 2016, each event bringing hundreds of skiers and coaches into the city, filling hotels, restaurants, airplanes and local retailers. One cannot measure the long term economic impacts or the overall benefits of hosting the Canada Winter Games on simply who visits from out of town during the actual Games.

There are many complicated arguments for and against hosting the games and there is misinformation about what impacts, legacy and costs the 2023 Games may or may not bring. What is clear is that this is an opportunity that happens once a generation, that brings revenues and funding to Yellowknife and the NWT that will not be accessible otherwise, and that the 2023 Canada Winter Games will support and enhance the development of NWT youth to pursue their athletic dreams in national-level facilities right here at home. To the NWT Ski Division that is an opportunity too good to miss out on, especially when one considers the economic stimulus the Canada Winter Games will provide the City of Yellowknife during lean economic times.

If you require further information or wish to discuss this matter please contact myself or Angela Littlefair, President NWT Ski Division.

Sincerely Yours,

Kevin Smith