|Herald photo by David Rossiter
Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation Christine Cusanelli, the MLA for Calgary-Currie, applauds the announcement at city hall Tuesday that Lethbridge will be the host city for the 2015 Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games.
Once again, Lethbridge will play host to the Alberta 55 Plus Winter Games.
Christine Cusanelli, the minister responsible, flew to the city Tuesday to confirm the 2015 celebration will be based here. She also announced a $265,000 grant in support of the events, expected to draw more than 1,000 participants.
"The opportunity to compete against athletes from across the province helps encourage Albertans 55 years and older to maintain their healthy lifestyle," said Cusanelli, the province's minister of tourism, parks and recreation.
The event - formerly known as the Alberta Seniors' Games - was last held here in 2009. Last summer, Lethbridge welcomed about 2,500 youthful competitors to the Alberta Summer Games.
Officials say the 55 Plus schedule includes outdoor events like downhill and cross-country skiing (at Castle Mountain, and in the Crowsnest Pass) as well as more mental gymnastics like euchre and scrabble. Many of the indoor events may be held in Lethbridge Senior Citizens Organization facilities or at the Nord-Bridge Seniors' Centre.
Both will partner with the Lethbridge Sport Council and the city in presenting the games. Members of the seniors' groups, sports organizations and citizens at large will be invited to assist as volunteers - with an estimated 800 needed.
"Lethbridge has built a stellar reputation as a host, thanks to our tireless volunteers," acting mayor Bridget Mearns pointed out. That's helped the sport council and its event bid committee to bring many events here.
"Our citizens have demonstrated time and again that they have what it takes to make this event a success."
Last year, Lethbridge volunteers were instrumental in the success of the Ford World Women's Curling Championship as well as the Alberta Summer Games.
Last summer, volunteers who lead LSCO and Nord-Bridge - who came to city council last summer, asking for the city's support in a bid to host the 2015 events - were rewarded with a $150,000 grant.
Organizers say the 55 Plus events are expected to see nearly 1,100 participants in the city, creating an economic impact estimated at $800,000.
Entertainment and social events will also be on the agenda, along with spectator-friendly sports like curling and hockey.
Mayor Rajko Dodic, who was on holiday, sent his congratulations.
"These games will be a great opportunity to showcase our sports facilities and other tourism attractions," he said.