Ottawa bidding to host 2021 Canada Summer Games

The City of Ottawa is bidding to host the Canada Summer Games in 2021, and city sports clubs are excited about the upgrades to venues that could come if it's chosen.

Upgrades to city sports facilities possible if bid successful, says Watson

Athletes Xavier Desharnais and Raphaelle Roy Ash hold the Canada Summer Games torch after it was lit during a ceremony on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Friday February 1, 2013 in Ottawa. The City of Ottawa will bid for the 2021 Games, which will be held somewhere in Ontario. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)

The City of Ottawa is bidding to host the Canada Summer Games in 2021, with city sports clubs excited about the upgrades that could come with a successful bid.

Mayor Jim Watson said in last month's state of the city speech that Innes Coun. Jody Mitic, the city's sports commissioner, would lead the city's exploration of a bid for the Games.

The bidding officially opened Wednesday and the next day, Mitic's office confirmed the city will put in a bid in close collaboration with Ottawa Tourism.

His office said it couldn't comment further to respect the bidding process.

Upgrading venues

In his speech, Watson praised the financial impact of hosting big events such as the Canada Games and said that — when it comes to infrastructure — that impact could be felt well after the Games wrap up.

"The last Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke in 2013 attracted over 16,000 visitors. It had a local economic impact of $165 million," Watson said.

"If we decide to bid on and win this prestigious event, it would mean the potential to upgrade some of our aging sports facilities, alongside our federal and provincial partners."

Some Ottawa sports clubs who could use those facilities were quick to offer their wish list.

"Our program is oversubscribed and has been for a number of years now," said Kevin Jones, president of the Greater Ottawa Kingfish Swim Club.

"We went from 80 swimmers in 2012 to 180 in 2014 and we've been holding steady with those numbers. We can't grow anymore," Jones said. "The number one reason for that is the unavailability of any pool space in the City of Ottawa in the times that are suitable for offering swimming to younger people."

Jones said there are two pools that are big enough to host Canada Games swimming events in Ottawa — at the Nepean Sportsplex and the University of Ottawa — and having another one would lead to a better Canada Summer Games and more opportunities for swim clubs.

The Ottawa Rowing Club in Lowertown said it's been trying to replace a boathouse from the 1980s with no running water or heating at a cost of around $20 million.

"Having [the] Canada Summer Games and having some infrastructure funding allows us to hopefully increase our capacity," said executive director Melissa McKenzie.

"That way we can provide more services to the Ottawa community, provide more programming and give more people more access to the water ... We could be a real coup for the city." 

Tried in 2001

The 2021 Canada Summer Games will be held in Ontario after the province switched years with Newfoundland and Labrador, which will now host in 2025.

Communities have until May 20 to submit a letter of intent to bid on the Games and until June 30 to submit some of their technical information.

After that, a short list will be made and full bids due by Jan. 31, 2017.

"The Canada Games Council's Bid Evaluation Committee will be responsible for a detailed review of bidding communities and making a recommendation on the award of the Games to the CGC's Board of Directors on which bid can best meet the Canada Games hosting standards," said Wednesday's news release.

The winning bid will be announced in March or April, according to the Canada Games Council.

Ontario has hosted Canada Summer Games in Thunder Bay in 1981 and in London in 2001, which beat out a bid from Ottawa.

The 2017 Canada Summer Games will be held in Winnipeg.