When Canada comes to play, will we be ready?

Wayne Carew and Karolyn Godfrey with the official Canada Games bid procedures and hosting standards book.

Investing in infrastructure -

Over the next several months, Wayne Carew and 15 of his fellow Islanders will be thinking about the future – five years to be exact – and they need other Islanders to do the same.

Carew co-chairs the bid committee that will make Prince Edward Island’s case for hosting the Canada Winter Games in 2023. Five “visioning sessions” beginning this Tuesday (February 20) until March 6 will allow Islanders to tell committee members what these games should look and feel like.

“The visioning sessions are very important because we will be putting together our bid based on what Islanders tell us,” said Carew, whose co-chair is Brian McFeely.

“These games need to be athlete focused and showcase the best of what Prince Edward Island has to offer. Most importantly, we want to make sure all Islanders feel that these are their games.”

The five visioning sessions – organized by Karolyn Godfrey and her visioning subcommittee – will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.) on the following days:

  • February 20, Rodd Charlottetown Hotel;
  • February 22, Credit Union Place in Summerside;
  • February 27, Lanes Riverhouse Inn and Cottages in Montague;
  • March 1, Mill River Resort; and
  • March 6 (Francophone session), Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside.

Carew himself is no stranger to the Canada Games. For 10 years he's served on the national board and on the selection committee that awarded last summer’s games to Winnipeg and the forthcoming 2021 summer games to Ontario’s Niagara Region. He also worked with McFeely on Prince Edward Island’s 2009 Canada Summer Games.

As anyone who helped with those games – or the last Island-hosted winter games in 1991 – will tell you, the Canada Games are a big deal. More than 3,600 athletes and their support teams will descend on the Island to compete in 18 events (as-of the 2015 games) including some not commonly associated with winter like badminton, wheelchair basketball, and judo.

The boost to the province’s economy will be just as big. Visitors will fill-up 700 hotel rooms and $150 million will find its way into the Island’s economy.

To top it off, the games will kick-off a year marking the 150th anniversary of Prince Edward Island joining Confederation in 1873.

“Hosting these games will allow Prince Edward Island to welcome thousands of athletes and visitors from across the country, build a lasting legacy for our athletes and our communities, and celebrate our province’s culture with all of Canada,” Premier Wade MacLauchlan said. “They will showcase what makes us the mighty Island – people who dream big and work together to turn those dreams into reality.”

The 2023 winter games won’t automatically be awarded to Prince Edward Island. The province’s bid must still convince the national board next fall that the Island has the capacity and the ability to deliver a Canada Games that meets the standards of each sport’s governing body.

There are still questions that need to be answered for some sports, and the province must present a strong cultural component in its bid that will provide a flavour for what the opening ceremonies would offer. That’s why Carew says it’s vital that Islanders attend the visioning sessions to make their voices heard.

“In the Canada Games we are essentially running a large business,” he said, “so it’s important that we get as much input from our fellow Islanders as we can.”

Learn more about the Canada Games organization.

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