CALGARY — A group of prominent Albertans has started to explore whether communities across the province could host the 2030 Commonwealth Games.
The group includes athletes, business and sports leaders, the chief of Tsuut'ina Nation, as well as the mayors of Calgary and Edmonton.
"We've been working for well over three years very actively to try to explore this possibility," Roger Jackson, who's serving as president and CEO of the Alberta 2030 Commonwealth Games Corp., saidat a news conferenceWednesday. "We have been supported by private donations for all of our work up to this point in time and thousands of volunteer hours.
"Today, we are very excited to enter a new phase — a bid exploration."
Jackson, who was involved in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, said the group's Commonwealth Games bid now moves into the next phase of working with all levels of government, including Tsuut'ina Nation, as well as Commonwealth Sport Canada and the international Commonwealth Games Federation.
The Games, which are held every four years, would take place over 11 days in August 2030 in Calgary, Edmonton, Tsuut'ina Nation, the Bow Valley and other Alberta communities. It would bring together 74 Commonwealth nations and territories, and includes 4,500 athletes and para-athletes in 20 summer sports.
Claire Carver-Dias, president of Commonwealth Sport Canada, said the organization is endorsing Alberta as the preferred candidate to make a bid.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Tsuut'ina Nation, the province of Alberta, the cities of Edmonton and Calgary and the government of Canada to explore the possibility of hosting the Commonwealth Games in the province where big skies and big ideas meet."
Tsuut'ina Nation Chief Roy Whitney said it's an exciting and historic day for First Nations in Alberta.
"There are few things in this world that bring people together like sports — on the field, in the pool or on the court," he said. "Colour and race do not matter. It's about competition and striving to be the best.
"Sports have always been an important part of Indigenous cultures whether it for fun or in a competition."
Whitney said he's pleased the group wanted to include First Nations communities from the start.
"Through our discussions, it was very clear that this group was genuine in making First Nations a part of these Games — not just for the beads and feathers," he said, "but to be true partners, to be involved in creating a historic event and providing change for Indigenous people."
The mayors of Calgary and Edmonton both offered their continued support for the bid exploration.
Hamilton had considered a bid to host the 2030 Games but was told by Commonwealth Sport Canada last month it was no longer the preferred candidate after the Ontario government didn't commit to funding.
Alberta Culture Minister Jason Luan said the government is proud of the work that has been done so far.
"In support of this bid work, we are contributing up to $2 million to support the bid process," he said.
"If the bid is successful, the 2030 Commonwealth Games bid would bring back the Games to Alberta for the first time since 1978 and highlight the important role Indigenous communities have made to the history of sports in this province."
Jackson said the group will now talk to other Alberta communities and decide by August whether it should pursue a formal bid.
The successful host city for 2030 is expected to be named by the international federation in November. It wasn't immediately clear whether cities in other countries have already submitted bids.
Victoria was the last Canadian host city in 1994. The Commonwealth Games were also held in Edmonton in 1978 and Vancouver in 1954.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press