Greater Sudbury is moving ahead with its bid to host the 2021 Canada Summer Games, voting 8-5 Tuesday to commit at least $3 million to move to the next stage.
Councillors had to make a decision because the deadline whether to continue to bid the $45 million event is the end of January. The bid committee will now come here in February to further evaluate Sudbury.
In addition to Sudbury, Ottawa, Niagara, and the combined bid of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph are also in the running. It would be held July 26-Aug. 15, 2021, and include 19 sports split in two one-week segments.
The 2017 Games is being held in Winnipeg.
Tourism manager Meredith Armstrong said this was the largest event the city has ever tried to bring in.
“This is a big one,” Armstrong said. “Big risks, big rewards.”
Amanda Schweinbenz, head coach of mens' and womens' rowing at Laurentian University, said the bid was huge for the city.
“We have the opportunity, as a community, to host not only the youth of the country, but our own athletes,” Schweinbenz said. “They can play here, in front of us all, and be proud to say Sudbury is hosting the best Games ever. This is an incredible opportunity to build on what we already have. I would encourage all of you to believe in this.”
In addition to raising the city's profile and inspiring athletes, she said the community will have vastly upgraded facilities, including more tennis courts, more track and field facilities, another baseball diamond.
And alumni from Games often go to the Olympics, she said, meaning we could see future gold medalists before they make it big. “Wouldn't it be amazing to see a Penny Oleksiak in the pool?”
Other communities that have hosted the events have ended up with a profit, but the city must accept the risk and agree to be responsible for any deficits.
Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh said it was well worth the risk.
“I'm not afraid of seizing this opportunity that's before us,” McIntosh said. “I've never been to the Olympics and likely never will. But I can go to the Canada Sudbury Games. I think we can win this.”
But Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan said the potential of the city being left holding the bad at the end of the Games was too much.
“At the end of the day, as a council, we have to take a look at this and say, 'what are the risks?'” Kirwan said. “If we get awarded the Games, we accept all liability.”
Considering they need funds for other things such as the Place des art, the PET scannner and a new art gallery/library, Kirwan said he couldn't support the bid.
“This would be really rolling the dice.”
Ward 11 Coun. Lynne Reynolds agreed, saying resources that would go toward the Games would be better used to create “real” economic development and jobs.
And she said she believes the majority of taxpayers agree with her.
But Mayor Brian Bigger said the Games was a unique chance to showcase the city while leveraging federal and provincial funding to upgrade facilities.
“There are always risks in making this sort of decision,” Bigger said, urging councillors to “dream big.”
“The public elected us because they wanted change,” agreed Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti. “This is a risk worth gambling on.”
And Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer said he has seen the city host several events over the years, and he has no doubt the city can successfully host the Games.
“It will get done in this community -- I guarantee it,” Sizer said “We have to have a vision.”
How they voted:
- Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti - Yes
- Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini - No
- Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier - No
- Ward 4 Coun. Evelyn Dutrisac - No
- Ward 5 Coun. Bob Kirwan - No
- Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre - Yes
- Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo - Yes
- Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer - Yes
- Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh - Yes
- Ward 9 Coun. Fern Cormier - Yes
- Ward 11 Coun. Lynne Reynolds - No
- Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann - Yes
- Mayor Brian Bigger - Yes