Yellowknife’s political leaders meet on Monday to sign off on City Hall’s support for bringing the 2023 Francophone Games to the Northwest Territories.
The Canadian Francophone Games, held every three years since 1999, unites hundreds of French-speaking youth athletes in around a dozen sports and activities.
The event is not associated with the Francophonie Games, a far larger international event which endured negative press over New Brunswick’s decision to abandon hosting it over cost concerns.
The NWT’s Fédération franco-ténoise is preparing a bid to host the 2023 Canadian Francophone Games in Yellowknife.
On Monday, city councillors will examine plans to donate just over $50,000 in facility space to organizers for the duration of the Games.
That would mean handing over venues like the city’s fieldhouse, Somba K’e Civic Plaza, community arena, and several school gymnasiums for a week-long period in July 2023.
Based on 2019 fees, the City says in a briefing note this would equate to $53,100 of in-kind support for the Games.
Councillors may yet reject City staff’s recommendation to go ahead and offer this support to organizers.
However, City Hall administrators believe hosting the Games will result in a small economic windfall for Yellowknife businesses.
“The hosting of the Francophone Games in Yellowknife will assist in council achieving the goal of growing and diversifying the economy by potentially injecting approximately $400,000.00 dollars into our community over a five-day period,” a briefing note for councillors reads.
“The Francophone Games will be held during the shoulder season of the tourist season. It is therefore anticipated that the various hotels will have the capacity to accommodate the anticipated number of participants, coaches, spectators etc that the Games will bring to Yellowknife.
“Yellowknife is a culturally diverse community and the hosting of these events will provide another opportunity to showcase the community spirit and diversity to the rest of Canada.”
According to the City, the Fédération franco-ténoise has prepared a $1.25-million budget for the Games, including contributions of $540,000 from the federal government and $375,000 from the territorial government.
The remainder would include in-kind support such as that being discussed at City Hall on Monday, plus local sponsorship.
The City’s briefing note acknowledges that day camps and some user groups would be affected by the Games’ week-long presence, and alternative arrangements for those other activities would have to be made.
Around 1,000 people are expected to take part in the Games. The next edition takes place in Victoria in the summer of 2020.
Events range from public speaking, music, and improvisation, through to volleyball, ultimate, and track and field.
In 2016, Yellowknife city councillors rejected plans to bid for a much larger sports event in 2023: that year’s Canada Winter Games. Prince Edward Island is now hosting the event instead.