2021 Games bid falls short

By Kaitlin Fisher

Ottawa won’t have a chance to bid for the Canada Games again for 20 years after its high-profile play for the 2021 event fell short last month.

The city lost its bid to the Niagara Region, which was awarded the right to host the 2021 Games after a much-anticipated announcement on March 30. Sudbury and Kitchener-Waterloo were also in the running to host the national sporting competition.

Sue Holloway, a former Olympian and the co-chair of Ottawa’s bid team, said she had hoped to receive better news.

“It’s like any competition, right? You go in putting your best effort forward,” she said. “In this particular case, it’s a judgment and a decision is made.”

The Canada Games is a multi-sport event held every two years, alternating between summer and winter games.

The games are for elite amateur athletes who represent their province or territory.

According to David Gourlay, president of the Ottawa Champions baseball club, the bid team’s vision for Ottawa as the host of the Games was a “cross-representation of the city.”

The original plan had set Carleton University as the athlete’s village.

Baseball would have been played at Kinsmen Field and Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton Park. TD Place and Nepean Sportsplex were other planned venues, and the Ottawa River Runners’ whitewater course near LeBreton Flats was to host paddling events.

Despite being disappointed by the decision, Holloway, who co-chaired alongside former Ottawa Senators president Cyril Leeder, said she is proud of how far the city came.

“I feel very confident that we did the best we could and that we put forward the best vision for Ottawa as Canada Games host,” she said. “They chose another vision, another city, which is their job. So we did our job, they did their job.”

Ottawa would have been the largest city yet to host the Canada Games, which tends to go to smaller centres.

The games only visit Ontario once every 20 years, so the city will have to wait two decades to bid again. In spite of this, Holloway said there are plenty of other opportunities.

“There will be more events that come to Ottawa and we know more and we can go forward using this as a platform,” she said.

“We worked tremendously well as a group. I found that we had lots of energy. We had lots of passion for this city,” Gourlay added. “I think this crew is going to go at it again.”

Gourlay said Ottawa needs to sit down as a community and evaluate other sporting opportunities to go ahead with in the future.

He suggested the Commonwealth Games and the Ontario Games as other potential ventures.

More information is expected to be released later this month as to why the Niagara Region was successful in its bid.

Holloway said she believes the decision was very close, calling Ontario a “well-endowed” province.

“These are extremely competitive processes,” Gourlay said. “To host the Canada Games is a true privilege for any community.”

According to Holloway, Ottawa really came together to push for the bid.

“This is not the result that we wanted, but you do have to reflect on the journey and that was outstanding,” she said.

“We brought together a lot of really talented people in the city to support sport and that’s always a good thing.”

Winnipeg will host the 2017 Canada Summer Games, followed by Red Deer, Alta., host of the Winter Games in 2019.

“It really is worthwhile for us to make these efforts and to get these events in our city, and it’s good for Ottawa. That’s why we did it,” Holloway said.

“There’s a reason why you feel very confident about saying the things that we did about Ottawa because it is a great place to host. It’s a great place to live,” she said. “I’m very proud of what we did and I’m very proud of the people involved.”