PEI

What Islanders can expect one year before the 2023 Canada Games

P.E.I. is celebrating Spirit Day Thursday to signal a one-year countdown leading up to the 2023 Canada Winter Games that will take place from Feb. 18 to March 5.

Schools will close for 2 weeks, new UPEI dorm will host athletes

The 2023 Canada Games mascot Wowkwis made an appearance Thursday at the Spirit Day flag raising ceremony in front of Charlottetown city hall. (Laura Meader/CBC)

P.E.I. is celebrating Spirit Day Thursday to signal a one-year countdown leading up to the 2023 Canada Winter Games that will take place from Feb. 18 to March 5.

A flag was raised in front of Charlottetown city hall and will stay up for the rest of the weekend.

"We're trying to build that excitement at one year out," said Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown. 

"This is the time to start."

'Many moving parts'

The Canada Games estimates thousands of athletes, staff, coaches, family and visitors coming into the province from across the country.

On top of new construction and upgrades to sporting venues to host the games, a new UPEI residence building will be the athletes' village, where about 1,600 athletes will stay each week.

Wayne Carew, far left, and Brian McFeely, far right, co-chairs of the 2023 Canada Games, kick off Spirit Day on Thursday with Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown, left, and Coun. Terry Bernard, right. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Brian McFeely, a co-chair for the Games, said the development of these games has been in the works for over five years and it's an "exciting day" to start implementing the plan.

He said some schools will be used for team practices and office spaces, and school buses will be needed to move athletes throughout P.E.I.

McFeely also said Island students can expect to get two weeks off school for the duration of the games as it is expected to replace March Break in 2023.

"[It] was certainly discussed with the province during the bid process that there would be an extra long school break during the games," said McFeely.

"That has been well known I think for a few years now and built into the timetable and curriculum for next year."

Funding challenges

The Host Society is working on raising $8 million out of the total $54.2 million budget.

Wayne Carew, a co-chair of the Games, said the games will put more than $110 million into the Island economy.

Attendees are an important revenue stream that make up for some of the event's expenses, so Carew hopes the pandemic eases in order for crowds to take part. 

McFeely says now is the time to move things forward to start recruitment for the event’s 5,000 volunteers. (Laura Meader/CBC)

Areas on the Island that won't be used for sporting events will be used for cultural competitions, said Carew.

Organizers are pushing to recruit the 5,000 volunteers needed to help with these games and they are optimistic people will sign up.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the Host Society is working on raising $9 million. In fact, it's attempting to raise $8 million.
    Feb 18, 2022 10:58 AM AT

With files from Laura Meader

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