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Our sports history has value

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Simple confirmation that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has been operating without its standard financial aid from the provincial government prompted some interesting response during the last few days.

In a casual conversation, executive director Tracey Kinsella mentioned last week that COVID-19 made it necessary to cancel at least two annual fund-raisers – the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and its annual invitational golf tournament in Red Deer – and she was concerned about meeting routine expenses.

Consistently, the government’s contribution of $302,000 a year has been in the hands of Hall of Fame officials before the middle of the year. She expressed only mild frustration,, understanding that the coronavirus pandemic and other major financial issues have created major problems far from the world of sports. She did state that government staff members, working below the level of elected or appointed officials, have told her of their efforts to have the money forwarded as quickly as possible.

Perhaps this delay must be seen as part of a long and ongoing drop in Alberta’s financial support to amateur sports at all levels. In the 10-year period ending in 2019, the reduction reached $5.1 million – an average of $500,000 per year. We should hope not.

Some comparative figures seem to be well worth serious study:

* The economic impact of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer was $110 million; impact of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games was $3.4 million for the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo area and $5.6  million for this host province;

* In 2018-19, Alberta Sport Connection, a sport delivery system disbanded months ago by the UPC, provided $7.2 million to be shared among 80 provincial sport organizations that delivered programming to more than 788,000 Albertans;

* Leduc hosted the 2016 Alberta Summer Games with an economic impact of $3.6 million for the area and $4.9 million for the province.

Still, government aid has dropped. Some citizens suggest minor and amateur sports should not receive government support during troubled times. Today it might be wise to ask Fort McMurray if that community will value the 2022 Arctic Winter Games? The record shows that numerous small- and mid-sized business stepped up during the 2018 Games, a difficult time for fire victims and petroleum companies that have served as a backstop to countless community and area projects.

After the severe floods earlier this year, it’s safe to guess that any international program that will improve community morale while adding some vital dollars to the public purse will be welcome. Incidentally, they’re headed to Wood Buffalo because COVID-19 forced cancellation of the scheduled 2020 event in Whitehorse. Fortunately, some of the dollars set aside and unused in the Northwest Territories have already arrived in Fort McMurray.

These days, surrounded by a crippled economy, I wonder if Alberta now wishes the 2026 Commonwealth Games were headed for Edmonton and 2026 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary. Both possibilities were seriously discussed before being nixed.

During my five-year term as chair of Alberta Sport Connection, the organization received steady criticism for finishing third of fourth – usually in the rear of Quebec and Ontario – in provincial medal counts. I tried regularly to help almost any government official to focus on the cost of doing business.

It made no impact to point out that Alberta’s per-capita investment in sport programs is (or was) the second-lowest in Canada. Sorry, I can’t remember which province spent less, but I am sure that Saskatchewan receives $24.39 per capita and Newfoundland gets $8.36 per capita.

Alberta receives $3.85 per capita although 82 per cent of Albertans say in polls that they believe sport contributes to quality of life. And those I have spoken to say clearly that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has value.

John Short on Edmonton’s baseball debate

 

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Alberta

Alberta Liberals appoint John Roggeveen as interim party leader

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CALGARY, United Kingdom — Alberta’s Liberals have appointed a Calgary lawyer to hold the party’s top job months after the resignation of its former leader. 

The party issued a statement saying its board of directors named John Roggeveen to the role, but offered few other details. 

The party, which currently holds no seats in the provincial legislature, has been without a leader since November when David Khan stepped down to pursue a job in his previous field of law.

Roggeveen, too, is a lawyer by trade, most recently practising privately in Calgary. 

Liberal Party President Helen Mcmenamin describes him as “the ideal candidate” for the role, citing “years of political experience and a deep commitment to building the Party and serving Albertans.”

Roggeveen says it’s an honour to take the party reins and is pledging to bolster its presence in the province’s political landscape. 

“Good policies are one of the strengths of our party, but good organization will be the foundation for successfully implementing them,” he said in the statement. “My focus will be on creating a stronger organization so that the Alberta Liberals will be a force in the next election.”

The Liberals were once the province’s official Opposition, but after a high of 32 seats in 1993, the party suffered from ups and downs until it fell to third-party status in the legislature in 2012.

It secured a seat for only one member in 2015 and was shut out of the legislature entirely during the most recent election in April 2019.

Saturday’s statement neither specified the expected length of Roggeveen’s stint as party leader nor spelled out the process for choosing a permanent successor.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Wayne Middaugh leads Howard rink to victory in its opening game of Tim Hortons Brier

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CALGARY — It was a triumphant return to the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier for Wayne Middaugh.

With Glenn Howard ailing, Middaugh led Howard’s Wildcard 3 team to a 9-5 win over Gregory Skauge of Northwest Territories in the opening game of the tournament for both rinks Saturday.

Middaugh originally joined Howard’s rink last month as a fifth but was forced into action after Howard suffered broken ribs in a snowmobile accident.

A broken leg derailed Middaugh’s competitive playing career in January 2016 when he was Howard’s vice at the time.

Middaugh was on crutches at the Brier that season to help the team from the coaching bench.

Middaugh last actively played in the Brier in 2013.

A Canadian Curling Hall of Famer, Middaugh has won Brier and world gold medals at three different positions.

He and Howard won a world title together in 2012 with a different lineup.

On Saturday, the Wildcard 3 team cemented its win with three in the ninth end.

In other action, New Brunswick’s James Grattan defeated Mike McEwen (Wildcard 1) 6-3, Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs got past Yukon’s Dustin Mikkelsen 11-3 in eight ends and Manitoba’s Jason Gunnlaugson edged Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher 5-4.

Two more draws were scheduled for later Saturday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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