By Greg Price
As local athletes prepare to compete in the Southern Alberta Summer Games in early July in Brooks, there is the very real possibility the Town of Taber/M.D. of Taber could be hosting the 2018 version of the Games.
The County of Lethbridge was supposed to be hosting the 2018 Southern Alberta Summer Games, but has withdrawn its bid. Letters have gone out to different communities inquiring as to their interest in hosting the Games in which interest has been piqued in the Taber/M.D. of Taber communities.
“We’ve had some discussions on past Games and who is still around and who could do this and we put some feelers out there. There are several people who did the games previously who are still around and are wanting to step up to the plate,” said Aline Holmen, during a discussion period at Taber recreation Board’s June 1 meeting. “The recommendation is we put a bid in on this.”
The Taber region has hosted the Southern Alberta Summer Games three times since 2005, the most recent being 2013.
One of those volunteers from the 2013 Games was Tamara Miyanaga who made a presentation to the recreation board on what the Games would bring to the town.
“I’ve been involved with four Games since my time here in Taber. I really think the rec board should look at putting in a bid. Not only because it provided a place for southern Albertans to come and you have your economic spin-offs, but it’s great for our families here,” said Miyanaga. “When there is something here, we have people who join in, we have events people are more inclined to go to. We have some fabulous rec facilities that families can use in different ways in the summer versus just our off season. We need to keep things active for people. If we miss out on these opportunities, it may not seem like a big deal, but there are kids who say the Southern Alberta Summer Games were the highlight of the summer for their families from year to year to year. It’s a great development for our whole area and let’s use what we have and continue to build what we have. Southern Alberta Summer Games is a positive, good recreational activity, anyone can do it.”
Typically in the past, it has cost between $60,000-$80,000 to host the Southern Alberta Summer Games in recent years.
“To give it some perspective, in 2008, our budget was $80,000 and we came in at $58,000. Aside from using all the facilities, the town’s portion of that was quite low,” said Holmen, adding some funding is available through the Southern Alberta Recreation Association (SARA) to offset some of the costs for municipalities hosting the Games. “In 2013, the Town and the M.D. each committed $20,000 towards the Games, and in the end only had to use $2,500 of the two $20,000 that was committed.”
Some thoughts have been the Games competes too much with Cornfest financially which Holmen did not agree with.
“I don’t know if I agree with that 100 per cent. I suppose it does in some ways because of the economic times, people only have so many dollars during the summer. The last two events, the premise was we aren’t going to go and hard-core fundraise, we are going to look for sponsors. We were fortunate to get that. Will that happen again? I don’t know,” said Holmen.
“Over the last three Games (in Taber) from 2005 until 2018, that’s 13 years, we were also able to get away with not needing much equipment. For 2005 we bought a lot of new equipment and those might be getting some wear and tear now over the years. The facilities are awesome here, but sometimes it comes down to the equipment. It’s the track and field equipment mainly, but when we get it, it lasts a long time and the schools can use it.”
The last time Taber hosted the Southern Alberta Games in 2013, it featured 2,500 athletes competing in the athletic or cultural events.
“The number can fluctuate depending on who is hosting and how central it is,” said Holmen. “It has been very successful and next year it will be the 49th year (for the Games). It all started in Pincher Creek (in 1970).”
Holmen added most of the main sporting bodies that would be needed to volunteer for the Games have been conferred with and so far feedback has been positive to host the 2018 Games.
“A lot of the volunteers are my age or older, so we have some plans to start to groom the younger families and the next generation. The time is now to involve some new families,” said Miyanaga.
Town councillor and recreation board member Randy Sparks seemed open to the bid process, highlighting the family nature of the Games where it is open to anyone to participate, where while medals are nice, it is a chance for anyone to stay active through participation.
“They come out with their families, grandma and grandpa come out. The kids participate, some of the adults participate who may not have participated if it was elsewhere,” said Sparks. “I believe this is something people will come out and support. It seems like when SARA gets in trouble trying to find a host, they come to Taber. They do that because Taber steps up to the plate and does a good job. I think this is awesome, we can form some partnerships.”
Sparks further inquired if new sports could be added to the Games which Holmen answered in the positive as long as there are the facilities and volunteer base to accommodate it.
“Two years ago they added Cross-Fit as a demo sport and now it’s part of the Games. We’ve seen all sort of things where some communities have some sports while others don’t,” said Holmen. “We’ve seen mountain biking and kayaking. Lethbridge did motocross one year and we can do that.”
A motion was passed that the Taber Recreation Board recommended to town council it puts in a bid to host the 2018 Southern Alberta Games as there seems to be a general consensus in wanting to host the Games along with the M.D. of Taber.