The 2015 Canada Winter Games has finalized its first private sector partnership and, in doing so, has found itself a new base of operations.
The 2015 Games and the BID Group of Companies have signed a contract that will see the Games headquarters move into a 15,000 square-foot office owned by BID, located above the downtown post office at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Quebec Street. The space will be shared by the two organizations through the summer of 2015.
A freshly-renovated 6,000 square-foot area at the east end of the building has been set aside for use by Games employees and will be known as Canada Games House.
The deal between the 2015 Canada Winter Games and the BID Group is valued at $250,000.
"We knew we didn't want to have to move a bunch of times as the organization grew," said Games CEO Stuart Ballantyne, whose staff has been working in a much smaller office at 1584 Seventh Ave. "The BID Group of Companies has given us an amazing opportunity to stay right through the Games and through our wrap-up time in an amazing space so we look forward to launching Canada Games House this summer, getting moved in and getting settled."
Currently, only the Games management team has been formed but 60 or more people will eventually work out of Canada Games House.
The address of Canada Games House is 545 Quebec St.
Ballantyne is pleased with the location because it's close to the site of the eventual Games Village, which will be in the downtown hotel district.
"We'll be able to walk back and forth during the Games time," he said. "It's a great luxury and we'll also have a great presence in the downtown core."
Brian Fehr, CEO of the BID Group, said the renovations inside the office weren't originally done with the Canada Winter Games in mind. But, when the opportunity to support the Games presented itself, the decision was made to offer up the space. Fehr's thought process was tied to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and the wonderful experiences he had there.
"I was quite negative about the tax dollars being spent at the Olympics," he said, but added that his feelings started to change as the Olympics got closer.
"I went down and spent a lot of time at the Olympics and I just loved the feeling of walking along the street and listening to people from everywhere," Fehr continued. "Everybody was in a happy mood and I believe that it has done good things for Canada. I don't know how you measure those numbers and figure that out but I certainly know the feeling at the time was a good feeling and I hope that we replicate something like that in Prince George. I think we've got real potential to showcase Prince George to the world and that's why I'm involved."
The BID Group, which originated in Vanderhoof, has more than 25 years of construction and fabrication experience in forestry and mining. It was founded in 1983 by Brian, Ike and David Fehr, in partnership with Bob Derksen and Barrie Topper. BID's holdings now include BID Construction, BID-Ironclad, NCL Engineering, Nechako Construction, Deltech, Nechako Mechanical, Vanderhoof Specialty Wood Products, Northwest Equipment Rentals and SEC Sawmill Equipment Company.
On Saturday, an exterior beautification project will commence on the Canada Games House building. The colour scheme will be consistent with the 2015 Canada Winter Games logo and brand, with a 24-foot mural by local artist Milan Basic serving as a focal point. The mural is slated to be unveiled on July 27 and the entire project is scheduled for completion in mid-August.
"I think the residents of Prince George and northern BC are going to be really proud of the look of the outside of this building when we're done," said Anthony Everett, chair of the 2015 Canada Winter Games host society. "It will have some colour, flags, pageantry. The Canada Games are all about pageantry and welcoming Canada."
The 2015 Canada Winter Games, scheduled for Feb. 13 to March 1 of that year, will be the largest multi-sport and cultural event ever held in Prince George and Northern BC. Athletes from all 10 provinces and all three territories will compete in 21 different sports.
The Games are expected to have a $70 million to $90 million economic impact on the region.