Ontario Winter Games plans firming up
MUSKOKA - As it did in 2010 with great success, Gravenhurst will be playing host community to the 2014 Ontario Youth Winter Games opening ceremonies.
It has the potential to be an incredibly busy and fruitful weekend for the town as the tentative dates for the games, Feb. 27 through March 2, fall over the same period when the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival is scheduled to be in full swing.
Amy Taylor, the town’s community events facilitator and marketing assistant said the exact dates have not yet “been set in stone,” but at this point it appears it will be during the carnival.
“It will be another busy weekend for us,” she said.
Taylor said the town has also been approved to host sledge hockey and wrestling, both potentially big draws for athletes and spectators.
She added the town is bidding to host volleyball and curling as well, although the latter may end up being hosted in Orillia as wheelchair athletes will be involved in curling this games and that city’s rink is better equipped to handle those with mobility issues.
“They both (volleyball and wrestling) bring over 450 athletes to town, plus coaches, plus support (personnel),” Taylor added.
Council officially approved its financial contribution of $16,569 during its meeting Nov. 20. That cost will be split in two and covered in both the 2013 and 2014 municipal budgets. Based on a per capita ratio ($1.50 per person, based on the 2006 census), split between the eight Muskoka area hosting communities, Gravenhurst is responsible for 19.3 per cent of the games’ entire budget of approximately $1.2 million. Although not likely, as a Sport Alliance of Ontario condition for hosting, the town has also agreed it will provide an equal 19.3 per cent ratio to any deficit incurred. Bracebridge is the main host community and leading the effort, with Gravenhurst, Georgian Bay, Huntsville, Lake of Bays, Muskoka Lakes, Wahta Mohawk First Nation and potentially Orillia rounding out the list of event hosts.
In 2010, with a budget of about $1.18 million, some $1.4 million in revenues were generated and left a legacy fund of $200,000 to be granted back into the host communities for various charities and community organizations.
“The last winter games here were such a great success,” said Mayor Paisley Donaldson, who added the events and hosting the opening ceremonies meant a great deal financially to the town. “It was a huge weekend for us.”