The host society of the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games has released its final report on the event, co-hosted by Hay River and Fort Smith in March of this year.

The report was submitted to the Arctic Winter Games International Committee on Sept. 4.

“On behalf of our region, thousands of committed volunteers, the sponsors and supporters, thank you for the opportunity to host the 2018 games in the South Slave,” wrote Greg Rowe, the president of the host society in a letter to John Flynn, the president of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee.

“It was this opportunity which allowed us to demonstrate that a successful set of games could be hosted not only in the South Slave Region, but also in two small communities,” Rowe added. “I look forward to future editions of the games and witnessing the tremendous impact this internationally important sport and cultural event has on the young people of the North.”

An audit and final financial arrangements for the society, along with the organization’s dissolution, are yet to be finalized.

Mayor Brad Mapes is pleased with the report.

“I think it was a pretty thorough report,” he said.

Mapes said the report will help other communities hosting or considering hosting the Arctic Winter Games.

“Of course, our games were very unique because we were jointly holding it with two communities,” he noted. “So there were a lot of challenges that normally you wouldn’t see in a community that was hosting it themselves. We had a lot of logistic issues and different things like that. But overall I think the report was pretty good.”

The host society of the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games has released its final report on the event, co-hosted in March by Hay River and Fort Smith. NNSL file photo.

The report noted many positive things about the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games, along with a number of challenges.

“Community volunteer commitment was very strong in both communities,” the report stated. “Numerous individuals, companies and organizations committed significant time and resources (financial and other) to help make the 2018 South Slave Arctic Winter Games very successful. The commitment and contributions by the board were outstanding.”

Among other positives, it noted the ice arena facilities in both communities were excellent, most sport committees did an exceptional job running their respective events, public and community relations were of the highest standard, transportation went well, sponsors were satisfied and support from the GNWT, the federal government and the Arctic Winter Games International Committee was described as outstanding.

However, several factors were challenges.

The report pointed out that the use of three airports (Hay River, Fort Smith and Yellowknife) significantly increased the logistical challenges and costs for the 2018 games.

It noted that bus travel worked well, but added an additional workload, cost and risk element to the event.

The construction of the Hay River Rec Centre, which was ready for use just days before the games began, was described as a “stress factor” beyond the control of the host society.

The report also stated having two towns learn to work together and co-manage an event of this magnitude had its challenges.

And the pool of volunteers was smaller than in previous communities to host the event.

The report noted limited financial resources meant it was not possible to hire enough staff to support all key activities.

It added that the host society transitioned through many organizational changes during its existence and struggled with the relationship between the host society board, staff and the volunteer committee chairs.

There were “significant problems” in recruiting and retaining volunteer chairs in a number of key areas.

The final report made numerous suggestions on the governance of future games, including the roles of the Arctic Winter Games International Committee and host societies and on organizing the event, including such things as reporting, logistics, merchandising, internal communications, awarding of contracts, hiring of staff and more.

In the end, there were 17 paid positions and 43 volunteer committees for the 2018 games.

In October of 2017, the GNWT provided the full-time services of its director of sport, recreation and youth to support management requirements for the games.

For future games shared by two communities, the report recommended that, depending on logistical considerations, the opening ceremonies be held in one community and the closing ceremonies in the other.

For the South Slave games, both the opening and closing ceremonies were held in Hay River.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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