4,000 volunteers needed

'I guarantee a lot of people will be headed up to help out,' says Hay River mayor

Evan Kiyoshi French | NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
January 19, 2015
The GNWT is supporting Yellowknife's bid to host the 2023 Canada Winter Games. Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck, left, and Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert C. McLeod hosted a public meeting on the bid Jan. 9. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

The GNWT is supporting Yellowknife’s bid to host the 2023 Canada Winter Games. Yellowknife Mayor Mark Heyck, left, and Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert C. McLeod hosted a public meeting on the bid Jan. 9. – Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

Four thousand volunteers will be needed if the city of Yellowknife decides to host the Canada Winter Games in 2023.

Robert C. McLeod, minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), said the territorial government hopes volunteers from the outside the territory will lend their support to bolster the ranks of helpers at home. The NWT has sent youth ambassadors to volunteer at events elsewhere around the country so he is hoping the gesture will be returned in kind.

It’s expected more than 3,600 athletes and coaches from across the country will be in Yellowknife if the city decides to host the games.

“I’m suspecting we’ll get a number of volunteers from outside of the territory, like from other jurisdictions,” said McLeod.

“There’s some people that do that. I’m not too concerned. We’re talking 2023, and I think Yellowknife and the territory have always proven that they can step up to the plate when they have to.”

Hay River Mayor Andrew Cassidy said he expects the volunteer base already being gathered for the Arctic Winter Games in 2018 can be drawn upon should Yellowknife host the Canada Winter Games five years after that.

“I haven’t heard a whole lot of buzz in Hay River about heading up to Yellowknife for the event, but without a doubt we’re fairly close to the city and I guarantee a lot of people will be heading up to help out and take part in excitement of the Canada Winter Games,” he said.

Greg Rowe, chairman of South Slave bid committee for the Arctic Winter Games, said while 4,000 is an ambitious number of volunteers, he’s confident they can be found.

“This certainly would be a first where Yellowknife is requiring such a wide variety, but one of the things we’re looking at with the proposed Arctic Winter Games, from our region, is looking at previous participants and volunteers,” he said.

“Part of our task when we went to Fairbanks this past March was to find out the numbers required and just talk with a lot of the chair people involved, and talk with the people hosting it. There was a number of people that had participated in previous Arctic Winter Games.

“There is a following, it’s something that’s done with the Arctic Winter Games, and I would assume the Canada Winter Games would have a following.”

Rowe said people involved in winter games are passionate about sport.

“There’s a real passion and love of the sport that drives it. I don’t think they’re doing it for incentives or recognition,” he said. “I would think that if you’d been involved with the Canada Games (as) mission staff, each region would provide mission staff for their province, and the other territories, so those are going to bring some volunteers.”

McLeod said it’s too early to speculate on what kind of incentives would be offered to volunteers, but the opportunity to see the games in front row seats as well as games-branded merchandize would likely be among them.

While the territorial government is now officially on board with the Yellowknife’s bid for the games questions remain on who exactly will be footing the bill.

Much hinges on the construction of an athletes’ village and swimming pool. The athletes’ village was originally estimated by the city last November to cost $23 million, although some officials now peg that figure at closer to $30 million. The city estimates a new pool will cost around $30 million.

The required formula funding minus the athletes’ village is $35.8 million. Yellowknife city council is expected to vote on hosting Canada Winter Games this fall.