10 years later: The lasting legacy of the Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse – North

This week marked the 10th anniversary of what was the largest national sporting event ever held north of 60: the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse. It was the first — and so far the only — time the Games have been held in the North.

‘The legacy of the Games has been legion,’ said Piers McDonald, who was the host society president. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

The Games officially opened on Feb. 23, 2007, bringing thousands of people and millions of dollars to the territory — and its legacy is still apparent.

“This was a huge workout for this community,” said Piers McDonald, who was president of the Games’ host society. 

“Literally one in five residents were volunteering in one way or another… Some people put in thousands of hours over a number of years planning for this event. We had an excellent staff, many of whom have gone on to jobs in the community.

“The legacy of the Games has been legion.”

Costs and benefits

According to an economic assessment by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, the Games contributed an estimated $75.2 million to Yukon’s gross domestic product, and generated $176.7 million in economic activity.

The legacy includes substantial bricks-and-mortar, namely the $43 million Canada Games Centre, an athletes’ village — which was later converted into seniors’ and students’ housing — and a chalet at Mount Sima, the city’s downhill ski facility.

The Games Centre has become a much-loved facility in Whitehorse, with its 25-metre pool and “lazy river,” indoor running track, soccer pitch, two ice rinks (one Olympic-sized, one NHL-sized), fitness centre and “flexihall”.

But it hasn’t been cheap; the City of Whitehorse says it gulps down $8 million annually to operate the centre. 

It collects about $1 million in membership fees each year, and otherwise the city recovers around half of the operating costs.

Launching Yukon athletes’ careers

Not only were the 2007 Games the first to be held in…

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