Local sport tourism officials are contemplating making a bid to bring the 2021 Canada Summer Games to Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Guelph.
"The support so far has been very positive," said Sherry Doiron, manager of sport tourism at the Regional Sport Tourism Office, which services the four cities.
"The Canada Games are a huge cultural property in Canada, as well. It involves a big music festival, language is a component – everybody so far are seeing the wins."
Doiron has been pitching the idea to local city councils to garner support while also working with staff to take inventory of the facilities available in the area to host the games.
So far she has received support from Guelph and Waterloo. She is set to appear before Cambridge council next week and Kitchener later this month.
Doiron said they have until May 20 this year to write a letter of intent that the area will be bidding to host the games. Once that is completed, they have until June 30 to file a report detailing how facilities in the area meet technical requirements.
Hundreds of athletes
The Canada Games were started in 1967 and are held every two years, alternating between summer and winter similar to the Olympics, bringing hundreds of athletes as well as their fans and families to a community. The games in Winnipeg next summer will have 16 different sports and 250 events. Since its inception, more than 100,000 athletes have participated in the games.
"On behalf of the CGC, we are excited to oversee the 2021 Canada Games bid process" - Wayne Carew, 2021 Bid Chair pic.twitter.com/JgzSTJK2Yz— Canada Games (@CanadaGames) February 10, 2016
Newfoundland and Labrador were supposed to host the games in 2021, but in October the provincial government there announced there wasn't the support there to pull off the feat in five years.
Ontario, which was scheduled to host the games in 2025, volunteered to switch places. The process to find a host city or region for the games was launched in February.
"The good thing is that all the cities that are interested in bidding are on the exact same timeframe, but it certainly is making the whole process very condensed," Doiron said.
A short list of cities that are being considered to host the games would be released in September, and they would have until January, 2017 to complete all the paperwork.
The host city will be announced next April.
Bid a collaboration
Doiron said this area is already in a good place to play host.
"The fact that we're looking at it as a regional bid … It's really showcasing that collaboration and all the partnerships coming together," she told CBC News.
There are plenty of municipal facilities, and Doiron said they would also be able to draw on fields, tracks, pools and other buildings from the three universities in the four cities as well as Conestoga College.
With that, plus plans already in place by the local municipalities to build new facilities, there would no real need to build anything new to host the games, she said. There would have to be some upgrades, though, as existing sports venues age and new technologies become available.
Doiron said, the economic benefits to the area can be enormous.
"Sport tourism in itself is a $5.2 billion industry in this country," she said.
"We've got some really key tourist destination pieces," she said, adding hotels, restaurants and public transit would all see a boost during the games, if this area hosts. She said city staff and community partners are excited about what it could mean.
"We all see it as a very strong, positive for the region," Doiron said.