Whitehorse launches bid to host 2027 Canada Winter Games

The City of Whitehorse launched its bid to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games on Wednesday, after successfully hosting the Games in 2007. Yukon’s premier said the bid process will take over a year and, if successful, could generate close to $100 million for the local economy.

Hosting the games could generate close to $100 million, says premier

The City of Whitehorse launched its bid for the 2027 Canada Winter Games. Speakers at the event included, from left to right, Grand Chief of the Council of Yukon First Nations Peter Johnston, Premier Sandy Silver, Piers McDonald, chair of the bid committee, Kwanlin Dün First Nation Councillor Jessie Dawson, Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn, Mayor of Whitehorse Dan Curtis, Canada Games Council Board Director Anthony Everett, and three-time Canada Games alumnus for Team Yukon David Greer. (Mike Rudyk/CBC)

The City of Whitehorse launched its bid to host the 2027 Canada Winter Games on Wednesday, building on its successful previous hosting of the games in 2007.

"We learned hosting these games was an amazing experience. It's also not an easy feat, requiring thorough planning to ensure that all the necessary infrastructure, resources, people, the volunteers… are all in place," said Premier Sandy Silver, adding hosting the games could generate close to $100 million.

Dan Curtis, the mayor of Whitehorse, said the 2007 games contributed $75 million to Yukon's gross domestic product and generated $176 million in economic activity. The Canada Winter Games attract over 36,000 participants to the host community.

The Yukon government, the City of Whitehorse and the bid committee will take the next year to bring a formal bid together.

Ten per cent of the city's population use the Canada Games Centre every day, says Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis. (Mardy Derby/CBC)

Piers McDonald, the chair of the bid committee, said the 2027 Games are set to be held in the Yukon and, so far, Whitehorse is the only city to launch the bid process. But he said the committee still has to prove they can deliver the games.

"Despite the fact that there's no competition within the Yukon, there are basic standards that have to be met," said McDonald.

"It doesn't mean it's a guaranteed thing at all. There have been examples in the past where any one committee in the province or one community in the province bids, but they fall short in terms of meeting the requirements for hosting the games, and their bid has been denied and has gone to another province."

Whitehorse has to prove it has the amenities and personnel to host 22 national sporting competitions and thousands of athletes.

McDonald said Whitehorse could use the Canada Games Centre that was built for the 2007 Games again, but it will have to build a new skating rink and athlete village.

That's because the buildings built for the athletes' village were later repurposed into seniors' housing by the Yukon government, and student housing for Yukon University and the Yukon Research Centre.

The cost of building a new athlete village and skating rink is not yet known.

Assistant coach Jake Jirousek leads an early morning hockey practice at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse. (Dave Croft/CBC)

Lasting legacy

Several speakers present at the bid launch mentioned the positive and lasting legacy of the 2007 Canada Winter Games. 

"It doesn't take too much to look out the window to see the legacy of 2007 and what it brought to us not only as a territory, but as a community, and it is one of the probably most well-used facilities in the territory," said Grand Chief Peter Johnston of the Council of Yukon First Nations, referencing Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre built in 2007.

The 2007 Games were the reason the Canada Games Centre and Whitehorse's Mount Sima ski hill were developed.

Curtis said 10 per cent of the city's population uses the Canada Games Centre every day.

"The long term benefits of the 2007 games are also apparent in the $1 million legacy fund that continues to help support and promote our territories Indigenous peoples' participation in sport," said Minister of Community Services Richard Mostyn.

"The lasting value of these games simply cannot be overstated."

Councillor Jesse Dawson, who spoke on behalf of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, also expressed her strong support for the bid launch, saying sport events like the Canada Games make "our youth stronger and healthier."

The next Canada Winter Games will be held in Prince Edward Island in 2023.

With files from Mike Rudyk and Leonard Linklater