Final medals handed out by 2019 Western Canada Summer Games host committee
The final paperwork has been completed and the books are closed on the largest event ever to be hosted in southwest Saskatchewan.
The 2019 Western Canada Summer Games host committee’s final annual general meeting took place at the end of September and the game corporation is officially dissolved.
A final medal presentation took place at City Hall on Oct. 5, when host committee co-chair Melissa Shaw presented a framed set of medals to Mayor Denis Perrault, who accepted the medals on behalf of the City of Swift Current.
“This will be proudly put up here at City Hall,” he said. “I think they're awesome.”
The medals for the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games were designed by local graphic designer Brandon Wiebe. The design elements combine prairie themes of wind and wheat along with the familiar Canadian maple leaf.
Perrault mentioned that the process to host the games started in December 2014, and back then there was not certainty the bid would be successful.
“This was a real stretch,” he said. “This was something that we were shooting far higher than our City ever had before, and not thinking we had that good of a chance. The fact that we won it was incredible and it’s a testament to Melissa and to her team for the good work that they did on the proposal. And the outcome, in my opinion, was it thrived and succeeded in a community smaller than what they’re used to, on a budget far less than it ever had been before, while still in my opinion, being very successful.”
He felt the hosting of the event in southwest Saskatchewan had many benefits for the City and the region.
“It was a great chance to showcase Swift and the southwest, and I think we were able to build lots of partnerships from it,” he said. “Lots of people from all over came to be a volunteer, to be a sponsor. We were able to meet with a lot of the RMs and towns to encourage them to be a part of it. So it was a great experience.”
Shaw noted the hosting of the games will have benefits that will continue for many years in the southwest.
“The nice thing is that legacy now continues too through different legacy things that were left to the communities, sporting venues, equipment, legacy development culture activities,” she said. “So lots of money went back into the community to help future athletes and all that volunteerism and local leaders even.”
In the case of Swift Current that legacy includes the upgrading of tennis courts, the development of a beach volleyball facility, and the building of mountain cycle course.
The 2019 Western Canada Summer Games host committee ended their work in a sound financial position.
“We are very excited to say that we were $150,000 in the black,” she said. “So we were able to donate all of that money back into the community to different groups. … It wasn't just Swift Current. It was the entire southwest that that money went to, and not just sport. The Art Gallery got some for their local summer camps to help develop kids, lots of different avenues. So we're very excited about that.”
Although the work of the host committee has concluded, the games website with information, results and photos will remain alive for five years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought an end to large events, and Perrault expressed relief that the pandemic did not occur a year earlier.
“I keep thinking if this COVID had happened in 2019, with all of the dollars and all of the partnerships and all of the sponsors that had come together to make 2019 happen,” he said. “It would have been heart-breaking, and it is for so many communities across Saskatchewan that are losing some of these events that they’ve already got so much time and effort and money in. I’m so thankful that we were able to pull all of this off in 2019.”
The City of Swift Current invested a significant amount of resources to support the success of the event, both through financial support and in-kind contributions.
“We gave lots of staff and lots of our resources, but also a dollar contribution as well, I believe a total of $600,000,” he said. “The cash part was $450,000 and we did that in order to get $1.2 million from the province of Saskatchewan. So it was a pretty good bang for your buck, and also a great chance for us to obviously showcase Swift and the southwest, and expand on some of the facilities that we already had.”
The size of the event had a significant economic benefit for the region. An economic impact study by Tourism Saskatchewan indicated that approximately $5.75 million was spent in the local economy and 35 new jobs were created.
Perrault said he is aware that City staff is continuing to look at future opportunities to bring events to Swift Current after the pandemic is over.
“I think people are going to be hungry and looking for something fun, something to bring back, and hopefully we'll be able to deliver,” he said.
Swift Current Mayor Denis Perrault (at left) and 2019 Western Canada Summer Games host committee cochair Melissa Shaw during the presentation of a framed set of medals to the City of Swift Current, Oct. 5.