City, county to submit bid for games

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Brantford and Brant County want to submit a bid to co-host the 2021 Ontario 55+ Winter Games.

City and county councils will be asked Tuesday to give final approval to recommendations to submit a letter of intent in bid to the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport by Nov. 30 and to set up an Ontario Winter Games organizing committee with representatives from both councils and administrations.

City council approved making a joint bid earlier this month.

The winter games are held every other year in February, while the summer games are on alternate years in August. The 2017 winter games were hosted in Cobourg. The 2019 hosts have not yet been announced.

While communities such as Sarnia, Kingston, Huntsville, Mississauga and Brampton have previously served as hosts, neither Brantford nor Brant has ever done it.

“The County of Brant is recognized as having top-rated facilities, staff support, special event expertise and a pool of committed, dedicated volunteers capable of executing superior events,” said Russell Press, the county’s supervisor of tourism and community development.

“Most recently, the county co-hosted the 2017 Ontario Para Sport Winter Games, which are also a Games Ontario funded program,” he noted.

The project has passed muster at the two councils’ committees of the whole. The organizing committee is already working on the bid. If Brantford-Brant gets the nod, they could get a $210,000 grant toward holding it. No deficit guarantor letter is required from the host community, and legacy funds will be retained by the community if there’s a surplus.

The games generally attract about 800 to 1,100 athletes and officials who take part in three days of the competition featuring 10 to 12 different sport competitions, says a staff report. Accompanying the athletes, on average, is one family member who may also attend all events, which will result in an additional 800 visitors to the area over the three days of competition.

By way of comparison, the 55+ Winter Games are almost twice the size of the number of people who attended the Para Sport Games. The ministry estimates an indirect economic impact of more than $2 million for the games.

“Isn’t it exciting that we could get to host this,” said Brant Coun. Willem Bouma, the county’s chairman of community services.

“We and Brantford did such a good job hosting the Ontario Para Sport Winter Games. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. We can do it again.”

The city’s economic development and tourism department will act as the bid lead. While considering Brant’s role, county tourism staff consulted with representatives from the ministry and county staff who participated in the Para Sport Winter Games.

Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation will be asked to get involved with a VIP reception, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, the report says.

Local seniors centres and sports organizations will be invited to offer in-kind assistance, participate on the planning committee and bring their armies of volunteers.