By Stan Ashbee
Sunny South News
There’s a potential opportunity down the road for Coaldale to host an upcoming Southern Alberta Summer Games (SASG), now that Town of Coaldale council passed the motion for the creation of a 2018 SASG Bid Investigation Committee.
Stephanie Wierl, community services manager for the town, submitted a report to council at a regular council meeting held Feb. 9, in regards to the possibility of Coaldale playing future host.
Wierl asked council what could be done to enhance the community and get community members on board to make an event such as the SASG happen in Coaldale? Coaldale last hosted the SASG in 1994.
“It’s the longest standing multi-sport grassroots level event that has happened in Western Canada. 2015, marks year 46. Each year, these events get better. The communities that host these events learn from past challenges from other communities and it really enhances the games every year,” noted Wierl.
Pincher Creek hosted the SASG last year and Claresholm plays host this year. Wierl pointed out there is a potential for 3,000 athletes and spectators to visit the town during the event.
According to Wierl, there would have to be a few potential infrastructure upgrades in town in order to host the mandatory events outlined by the Southern Alberta Recreation Association (SARA).
Upgrades, Wierl stated in her report, would include work on the track at Kate Andrews High School including irrigation and field updates, which could include a partnership with Palliser Regional Schools and/or football groups in town. Temporary beach volleyball courts would also have to be installed for the mandatory sport.
“The reason why communities have gone with temporary installments is because of the potential cat problems with having a big sand pit in their community,” said Wierl. Wierl said work would have to be done in the arena and optionally, the town’s tennis courts.
“We would potentially have to look at upgrading our surface underneath the ice to keep it nice and safe for ball hockey, which is a mandatory event and a very well-attended event,” said Wierl, adding an optional upgrade would be the tennis courts, as it isn’t a mandatory sport but the facility and area could be enhanced for the future.
Not only will these upgrades help Coaldale’s legacy by hosting an event such as the SASG but it would help the town host other events beyond 2018.
Wierl noted the communities of Pincher Creek, Taber and Raymond can host an event such as the SASG at the drop of a hat because of past upgrades to infrastructure.
“It happened because they put in the money for those initial upgrades. Their town, their community, their council — really does see that economic spinoff,” said Wierl, adding they’ve created a strong model.
Financially speaking, Wierl explained, cultural grants through the provincial government, Host Community Grants for the games, athlete fees and local grants could be utilized if Coaldale was to host a future summer games.
Fundraising is another option to help fund the operation of the summer games, Wierl said.
Taber in 2013 raised $29,000 towards the operation of the games through fundraising efforts. Pincher Creek, last year, raised $34,000 through fundraising efforts. Claresholm, to date, has raised close to $30,000 through continued fundraising efforts. “There’s a lot of potential there and a lot of good partnerships we can make,” said Wierl.
Newly named Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kalen Hastings said this report to council is a two-stage approach in how council could pursue the next steps in hosting the event.
“The first stage is more of a feasibility committee. There will be a much larger implementation committee if council decides to go this way that would include community committee members. This is more, are we OK with the costs in relations to the rewards?”