Officials from the Bonnyville, Cold Lake and Glendon areas were happy to be part of a provincial announcement regarding being hosts for the 2026 Alberta Winter Games. Pictured are: Craig Copeland, City of Cold Lake mayor; Josh Crick, MD of Bonnyville councillor; Scott Cyr, MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul; Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport; Nick Werstiuk, Village of Glendon mayor and Kayla Blanchette, Town of Bonnyville councillor.Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

LAKELAND – On Monday morning, Minister of Tourism and Sports Joseph Schow announced that the 2026 Alberta Winter Games will be co-hosted by the Town and MD of Bonnyville, City of Cold Lake, and the Village of Glendon.  

“I’m confident that these communities will create an unforgettable experience for our province’s young athletes, an experience that will empower them and help them thrive both on and off the field of play,” said Minister Schow during the official announcement, which was held in Edmonton on Feb. 12. 

“Alberta has an excellent track record of hosting major national, international, and multi-sport events across the province. And a lot of the athletes who compete in these events got their start at the Alberta Winter Games,” said the minister. 

The government’s commitment to the success of the games was further solidified with an $820,000 operating grant. Schow noted that, “By investing in these activities, we invest in our health. By investing in our communities, we invest in our economy and in our future.” 

MD of Bonnyville Coun. Josh Crick expressed his excitement, stating, “Our [ski] hill, Kinosoo Ridge, will very adequately support any downhill skiing races, as well as the chalet with incredible views – some of the best views actually in the northeast part of Alberta.” 

City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland of Cold Lake reminisced about the region’s previous time hosting in 2010 and expressed his excitement for the upcoming 2026 Alberta Winter Games. He emphasized the community’s desire to attract both residents and visitors, stating, “We want to have people want to live and stay in our communities, and we have some of the best facilities out there.” 

Acknowledging the province’s funding, which is especially vital for smaller municipalities, Copeland highlighted the anticipated economic boost that hosting the event will have on local businesses.  

“[I] expect all the hotels in Cold Lake and Bonnyville will be packed. So, from an economic driver, [we are] probably looking at a couple of hundred thousand dollars coming into the community.” 

Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA Scott Cyr echoed the sentiments, emphasizing the significant opportunity the games present for the area. “Hosting these games is a major opportunity for our area, and as veteran host communities, I know that we will provide a memorable experience for everyone involved.” 

Cyr added, “I’ll tell you that when it comes down to it, this is a remarkable opportunity for all of us because we’re going to see tourism in ways that we haven’t seen in a lot of years. I’m looking forward to welcoming the thousands of athletes, coaches, and visitors from across the province to the MD of Bonnyville, the City of Cold Lake, the Town of Bonnyville, and the Village of Glendon for the 2026 Alberta Winter Games.” 

As preparations begin, Copeland says he has confidence in the region’s facilities. 

“We’re going to hopefully get some weather that will make some snow, but you know, we’ve got lots of confidence in Kinosoo Ridge. It has a great snowmaking machine, so I think our facilities are going to be in good standing for the game time. I think we’re going to do a great job.” 

Athletes aged 11 to 16 will qualify for the Winter Games through zone playoffs for their specific sport and selections held throughout the province. Previous Winter Games have seen athletes compete in various sports, including ringette, hockey, skiing and speedskating.  

Grande Prairie is set to host this year’s Winter Games, which take place from Feb. 16 to 19. 

With the location now made official for the 2026 Winter Games, the planning committee can begin the process of picking specific dates, along with determining which sports the 2026 Games will include. 

“The first Alberta Winter Games took place in Banff in 1976 and the event has gone on to become a staple in Alberta’s sports community,” according to information from the Government of Alberta. 

By Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 12, 2024 at 17:20

This item reprinted with permission from   Lakeland This Week   Bonnyville, Alberta

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