Funding finalized for Canada Summer Games
François-Philippe Champagne, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities, announces $29 million in funding for the Canada Games 2021 Thursday at the Welland International Flatwater Centre.
Against the backdrop of a bevy of buff Brock University athletes baking in the late-morning sun at the Welland International Flatwater Centre Thursday — how is that for alliteration? — the final piece of the funding was announced for the 2021 Canada Summer Games.
On hand to make the announcement of the last $29 million in funding was François-Philippe Champagne, the federal minister of infrastructure and communities. As befitting an announcement of this magnitude, countless local and federal politicians were on hand to give their two cents in a rah rah speechfest that lasted about an hour and sent BPSN staff scurrying to find shade before they melted.
“Strategic investments in public infrastructure such as sport and recreation centres, help to build vibrant and active communities, and create economic growth,” Champagne said. “The Government of Canada heard the call from the municipal governments in Niagara and is always prepared to invest in our communities and young people.
“The new 2021 Canada Games facilities will leave a sporting legacy that will increase access to quality recreational infrastructure, improving the lives of Canadians across the Niagara Region for generations to come.”
The total funding of $105 million for the Games is made up of: $32 million from the federal government, including $3 million from Sport Canada; $32 million from the provincial government, including $3 million from the provincial sporting agency; $20 million from the Regional Municipality of Niagara; $10 million from the City of St. Catharines; $5 million from the City of Thorold; $3.5 million in-kind services from Brock through the use of Brock facilities as the athletes village during the Games and a $500,000 financial contribution; and, $2 million from other municipalities in Niagara.
A recent story in the St. Catharines Standard reported that the region would be on the hook for any deficits, but Canada Games 2021 board chairman Doug Hamilton isn’t worried.
“The pre-requirement of any Canada Games is that the bidding community is responsible for the bottom line,” he said. “Having said that, we are the 28th Canada Games and there has never been a deficit before.”
The budget template used for Canada Games has built-in contingency funds and there often is money left over at the end.
“Any Canada Game surplus stays as a legacy fund in the community,” Hamilton said.
In a few regions of Canada where multi-sports events have been staged, the facilities created have suffered because there weren’t operational plans in place once the events ended. That won’t be the case in Niagara.
“There is a plan being prepared,” Hamilton said. “As part of the business plan that we do for the federal, provincial and local governments, we have to prepare a template for our legacy plan.”
That plan has to be completed by next year and approved by the various levels of government.
“That legacy plan talks about what happens to all of the infrastructure after the Games,” Hamilton said. “And it’s not just the infrastructure. It’s all the other programs that we will have.”
Hamilton used the example of the Canada Games mascot.
“Does that end up as the Niagara mascot or somewhere else?” he said. “There’s a lot of legacy pieces that come out of the Games.”
Canada Games Park will be owned and operated by Thorold, St. Catharines, Regional Niagara and Brock.
Two days ago in anticipation of Thursday’s funding announcement, the bid committee send out tenders for the two major projects associated with the Games; the multi-sport facility (Canada Games Park) south of Brock University and the rowing training facility on Henley Island in St. Catharines.
For a price tag of $80 million, the Canada Games Park will include: a sports abilities centre; athletics facility, outdoor beach volleyball centre, outdoor cycling pavilion; and, an environmental sustainability centre.
“We tendered those two projects together and the plan is that that tender will close at the end of the month and construction would start soon afterwards,” Hamilton said.
He would love to see local companies land the major construction projects, but their proposals have to make economic sense for the Canada Games committee.
“If it works out that they are local because they are the lowest price then that is great, but we are doing this in a fiscally responsible way so we will go with the lowest price.”
Other infrastructure projects include: the temporary installation of a modular, above ground swimming pool at Brock that will be transferred to the Town of Lincoln and used as a community pool following the Games; upgrades to the diving and rugby facilities at Brock and the rehabilitation of a baseball diamond at George Taylor Field in St. Catharines; and, upgrades to baseball and softball diamonds in Grimsby, Niagara Falls, Wainfleet, Welland and West Lincoln.
About 2,100 jobs are expected to be created and supported through the Canada Games process and the economic impact for the entire Games is projected to be in the neighbourhood of $400 million, Hamilton said.
The next step for the host committee is to continue working on the infrastructure projects and starting to host events leading up to the Canada Games. First up is co-hosting the Canadian Olympic wrestling trials in December with the Brock Wrestling Club.
In January, Canada Games representatives will start visiting local schools to spread the word about the Games and help build the excitement.
The region-wide support for the Canada Games has helped dispel the notion that Niagara was the Regional Municipality of Parochialism.
“I don’t think we broke down any barriers,” Hamilton said. “I had heard that there were these barriers, but when we presented the opportunity people very quickly realized that one municipality couldn’t do it by itself,” he said. “They understood it had to be a team effort and everyone worked together as a team.”