Bid committee floats $175M infrastructure package as part of Whitehorse's Canada Games bid

·2 min read
The 2007 Canada Winter Games held in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Scott Grant/Canada Games - image credit)
The 2007 Canada Winter Games held in Whitehorse, Yukon. (Scott Grant/Canada Games - image credit)

Whitehorse is gearing up to present its bid for the 2027 Canada Winter Games, with hopes of pitching a draft plan next week.

Piers McDonald, chair of the Whitehorse bid committee, said during a news conference Wednesday the bid has two big-ticket items: $115 million for a new 3,000 seat arena and upgrades to the existing Takhini Arena, as well as an athletes' village.

The arena, he said, could also be used for an opening ceremony, and later, concerts, or hockey games.

Meanwhile, at Yukon University, the athletes' village would be able to house 2,000 athletes and could double as affordable housing later on.

McDonald said the university is a good location for the athletes' village because the facility would also need a large commercial kitchen, physiotherapy facilities, entertainment and other amenities. The cost of that project, McDonald estimated, would be "something probably in the neighborhood of about $60 million."

McDonald said both pieces of infrastructure would be worth the cost.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do something on a national scale," he said.

He said it was clear the 20 sports set to be at the Games, which are determined by the sport committee of the Canada Games Council, would mean some challenges for the city.

"First was the need for a fourth arena, and that was clear from the beginning," McDonald said.

Anna Desmarais/CBC
Anna Desmarais/CBC

He said the university also indicated it was in need of new housing.

"An argument can be made that we are helping, directly, the issue of affordable housing in Whitehorse," he said. "We think that the Games offers an excellent catalyst for justifying this expenditure and investment."

The Canada Games is held once every two years, alternating between winter and summer. It's the largest multi-sport event in Canada for up-and-coming amateur athletes, its website says. The Games are two weeks long with more than 15 sports, thousands of athletes, coaches, managers and over 4,000 volunteers.

Committee volunteer John Glynn-Morris said the cost would be worth it for the community.

"We absolutely do feel really confident that this is worth the investment from a bunch of perspectives," he said.

The committee has yet to secure all the funding it needs. It's seeking half from the federal government. The territory has already put forward $8 million.

McDonald said the committee should be able to raise the rest within the next four years.

The host city is set to be selected in November, and is picked by the Canada Games Council.