Town eyes East Three school

Municipality seeking key partner in Arctic Winter Games bid

Shawn Giilck | Inuvik
September 25, 2014

The Town of Inuvik wants the Inuvik District Education Authority to join it as a key partner in preparing a bid to host the 2018 Arctic Winter Games.

Mayor Floyd Roland and town staffers Kelly Penner and Steve Krug made a pitch to the education authority members Sept. 16 at its regular monthly meeting.

Specifically the town, which is acting as the lead agency in a joint bid for the games with other Delta communities including Fort McPherson and Aklavik, would like to use East Three school as a base for the opening and closing ceremonies.

Roland, in a presentation that lasted about 15 minutes, explained that a facility large enough to host the entire assembly of participants was one of the key points needed by the host communities.

“The combined gyms at the school are big enough to do it,” he said. “It’ll be a tight fit, but we think we can do it.”

The ceremonies are expected to attract as many as 3,000 people, which is just below capacity for the school facilities, Roland added.

“When it comes to the facility itself, we need to work with you and your staff because in a sense we would be taking over the facilities.”

The school could also be used to billet the athletes and prepare meals, Roland added, as has been done in other host communities.

It’s only one possibility that the organizing committee is looking at, he said. Other host communities have constructed permanent facilities to be used by the community after the games are concluded.

“By using the school, though, for the opening and closing ceremonies, it would reduce our requirement for a larger facility,” Roland said.

It’s likely the former site of the Sir Alexander Mackenzie School would be used for such a building, he added, although plans are still being formulated.

“We think that with the school facility it would secure our bid in a very positive way,” Roland told the education authority members. “Initially our bid could have been considered deficient in a couple of areas, but we feel we can pull this off if all the right pieces come together.”

Arctic Winter Games officials originally weren’t enthusiastic about the idea of a split venue, and wanted one community to be designated the headquarters for the competition. That would be where participants would be expected to gather for all non-competitive events and to be housed. That would have posed some significant transportation problems.

“That would have put a strain on us, for officials, for athletes, families and guests that would have wanted to come up here,” Roland said.

A temporary facility is estimated to cost $1.3 million, he said, and that money would be better used as the basis for a permanent facility which wouldn’t cost a great deal more.

There wasn’t a great deal of reaction to the request by the education authority board members, who had indicated they would address the issue in more depth at a future meeting. Paul Watters, who was chairing the meeting, said he was concerned about the timing of the event, which generally¬†takes place in March.

Depending on the weather, that could pose problems with travelling due to the condition of the ice roads, he said.

He also asked whether the games would take place during the spring break, which would mean the school was available for use.

That would be the case, Roland said.

Lesa Semmler, another board member, asked the delegation to clarify whether the school would be needed for the week, which is a possibility.