Thompson will step up to host 2018 Manitoba Winter Games

The City of Thompson will host the 2018 Manitoba Winter Games with about half the usual time to prepare after councillors voted unanimously in favour of a resolution to take on the challenge at their Jan. 16 meeting.

Sport Manitoba held an informational meeting with the city and the School District of Mystery Lake on Jan. 7 to discuss Thompson hosting the games, which were originally due to be hosted by Virden, which bowed out Dec. 12 after informing Sport Manitoba that it didn’t believe it had an adequate volunteer base to successfully fulfill its hosting responsibilities.

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“They really went through a timeline that identified some of the milestones that need to be caught up on due to the fact that the normal process when a games has been awarded to a community, you’re usually in a 20 to 24 month planning process,” said city manager Gary Ceppetelli, whereas Thompson will have about 14 months to prepare.

Thompson hosted the games in 1994 and is in better shape to do so today, he added.

“There are the facilities currently in place and really upgraded from what we had back in 1994,” said Ceppetelli.

Coun. Colleen Smook said that when the games were here in 1994, it brought the community together.

“It was one of the best things that happened in Thompson,” she said. “Everybody jumped to the hump to bring those games to Thompson.”

Coun. Blake Ellis noted that the summer games in Steinbach last year generated about $660,000 in spending by out-of-town visitors.

“I believe that we’re going to have the volunteer base to be able to put these games on and do a good job with it and it’s going to be an economic boom for Thompson,” Ellis said.

Coun. Ron Matechuk asked if hosting in 1994 cost money.

“The host society made a profit,” said Mayor Dennis Fenske, noting that those previous games and an unsuccessful bid for the 2014 games were factors in Sport Manitoba approaching the city. “They knew that we’d hosted games previously and that we’d done a good job.”

The timing of the games, likely to be held around the first week of March, couldn’t be better, said Coun. Penny Byer.

“If you look ahead to the winter of 2018, we’re going to need the kind of positive feeling and activity that this can provide,” she said.

An advantage for Thompson is not needing to construct any facilities to host the games, said Coun. Dennis Foley.

“In 2018 it’s going to be showing the province that we’re still a relevant city,” he said. “Thompson, the way I look at it, is the best place in the province to host these games.”

The mayor said hosting an event that brings so many people in from out of town is a great way to showcase Thompson and encourage those people to come back again.

“Once they’re here, they realize what’s in Thompson and they’ll be coming back,” he said.

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