For many, winter in Halifax means a long stretch of unpredictable weather, a quieter, slower vibe in the city and almost no tourists around. And although there are numerous wonderful events that happen in Halifax over the winter season, they do not create the same kind of draw for visitors as during our warmer months. This year, there is a special reason for Haligonians to stay in Halifax during school break in February and for Canadians from across the country to join us. The city will be alive with the Halifax 2011 Canada Games!
Jean-Paul Deveau, Chair of the Games, agrees that the event will boost our city’s winter season in many ways. “The Games will bring a new energy and excitement into the entire city and province, with our sport venues spread out across HRM and beyond. Residents and locals will be able to feel the Canada Games spirit throughout our 18 days of events – including an amazing lineup of free concerts at Celebration Square and the Long Track Speed Skating events at the Canada Games Oval which will also be free to the public.” The weeks leading up to the Games have already instilled the Games spirit in Halifax residents: volunteer rallies, team selections and activities have created an excited buzz in our city.
The Games happening in Halifax during a period which is traditionally deemed “the low season” for the tourism and hospitality industry should prove to be an economic boost. Chair Jean-Paul Deveau reports that, “over 10,000 visitors and 3,600 participants coming to the Games from across the country will get to experience the genuine warmth and hospitality our province is known for while taking in the largest multi-sport event in Nova Scotia history.” Needless to say; hotels will be full, restaurants will be busy, shops will have customers and the sports venues will be full of cheering fans.
Events such as the Skate the Common marathon have allowed Haligonians to use the Canada Games facilities while encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle. More than anything, there seems to have been an overwhelming response to allowing free usage of the Canada Games Oval for public skating. I wanted to know if it is inspiring for the Games staff and organizers to see Haligonians taking to the Oval in such great numbers. Mr. Deveau’s response, understandably, was “absolutely.” He went on to explain that “the Canada Games values the promotion of sport and recreation, not just at the high-performance level, but at the community level as well. To see people embrace the Oval as a place to get outside and get active, whether they’re long-time skaters or just learning, is extremely inspiring. I hope the public momentum towards increased physical activity continues long after the Games are over.”
The opening and closing ceremonies for the 2011 Games at the Halifax Metro Centre will frame an event-rich chapter in our city’s history. The Games are fostering an environment where there is literally something for everyone, whether you are into the sports themselves, cheering for a loved one who is an athlete, or taking advantage of the festivals and events scene. Our city truly will become a cultural, athletic and tourism destination this February, which is something all Haligonians can be proud of.