The last couple of weeks have brought good news and good experiences for the Estevan 2016 Saskatchewan Summer Games committee.
Committee members were in Prince Albert from February 16 to 22 for the Saskatchewan Winter Games. Some were at the games in coaching capacities, but others were at the event to witness how the Saskatchewan Games are executed.
They received good news during the games, too, as the Saskatchewan Games Council announced the creation of the Saskatchewan Games Legacy Program. It will help host communities fund equipment purchases, as well as building and facility upgrades.
Estevan's Games committee will be able to apply to the Saskatchewan Games Council for funding of up to $250,000. So when a business or an organization makes a donation, that support could be matched through this program.
“It's going to help create a really nice legacy from the (2016) Games, which is the whole purpose behind it,” said Estevan Games committee spokesperson Brenda Lyons. “The reason that they developed this fund was to make sure there were some capital legacy projects left behind in each of the communities.”
Lyons said they not only have to construct a new track at the Estevan Comprehensive School and refurbish tennis courts at the school in the next two-and-a-half years, but they need to purchase canoe and kayak equipment.
“We hope to have a canoe and kayak club in the community,” said Lyons. “It will be great to have that equipment.
She expects there will be close to $1 million in capital improvements and equipment purchases for the Games.
Fundraising for the new track is expected to begin in earnest soon, she said.
It's not yet known if the support from the City of Estevan and local school boards will be eligible for this funding.
The 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games were the first beneficiaries of the legacy program. Through a matching grant of $125,000, Prince Albert was able to purchase new equipment for a majority of sports, and upgrade several facilities.
Lyons was at the Winter Games as a coach with the South East Connection synchronized swim team, and said that the experience has motivated her to return to Estevan, and plan the best event possible for athletes from across the province.
Another members of the Estevan 2016 committee, Blaire Ulrich, also lauded the experience in Prince Albert.
“It's exciting to watch their committee go from working so hard for 2 1/2 years, to seeing all their plans come to fruition,” said Ulrich. “To see the way that they react and problem solve throughout the games was exciting.”
During the closing ceremony, the Saskatchewan Games flag was handed over from Prince Albert's organizing committee to Estevan Summer Games committee co-chair Brian Smith. Estevan will also be taking possession of the cauldron, and hundreds of bunk beds for the Athletes' Village, during the next few weeks.