On the website for the 2015 Canada Winter Games, there is a clock. Day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute and second by second, it is counting down.
The clock is measuring the amount of time left until Prince George hosts the most significant sporting and cultural event in its history. The 2015 Canada Winter Games will open on Feb. 13 of that year and will run until March 1.
On a slightly smaller scale, those two weeks will do for Prince George what the 2010 Winter Olympics did for Vancouver. They'll shine a powerful ray of light on the city and region and will forever improve the image of this place we call home.
Most dangerous city in Canada? The people who come here -- the thousands of athletes, coaches, support staff, media members and spectators -- will see that label, attached to Prince George by Maclean's magazine, as the absolute rubbish that it is.
An industry town with grease under its fingernails? The folks who travel here will see P.G. for sporting venues that few similar-sized cities in Canada can match. Think the Northern Sport Centre with its sparkling gymnasium and multi-purpose fieldhouse. Think the brand new Kin Centre and its next-door neighbour, CN Centre. Think the Otway Nordic Centre and its world-class trail system. Think the Outdoor Ice Oval. Think Tabor Mountain and Purden Ski Village, which offer alpine adventures just minutes away from city limits.
A backwoods place populated by the uncultured and uneducated? Those who visit during the Games will take note of the beautiful downtown art gallery, the Prince George Playhouse, Theatre North West, the Civic Centre and the University of Northern British Columbia, one of Canada's foremost research institutions.
The 2015 Canada Winter Games will allow Prince George to introduce its true self to the rest of the nation. While the Games are on, they'll also create a buzz of positive energy that will be felt at the competition sites and in the downtown core, where the Athletes Village will be located. With the spirit of sport as the undercurrent, folks from across the country will mix and mingle and share their experiences. Eyes and hearts will be opened. Friendships will be made, many of them lasting ones.
The Games will be our moment in time, and they are approaching quickly. The clock on the website is the reminder.
Prince George will be ready, because we always are. We know how to welcome the country and the world. We gave proof during the 2000 Scott Tournament of Hearts, the 2001 Air Canada Cup, the 2007 Royal Bank Cup and the 2009 and 2011 World Baseball Challenge tournaments, to name just a few of the events we have successfully hosted in recent years.
A couple weeks from now, on Feb. 15 to be precise, a celebration will be held outside of Canada Games House at the corner of Fifth and Quebec. The party, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., will mark the arrival of the two-year threshold until the opening ceremonies. Games-eligible athletes will be in attendance and there will be live entertainment, children's activities, cultural booths, prize giveaways, free food and a massive outdoor screen showing videos. Naturally, the festivities will be capped off by a fireworks display.
The idea is to give P.G. residents a small taste of what's to come in 2015, and the Canada Winter Games organizing committee is inviting everyone to join in the fun.
Check it out. Sign up as a volunteer while you're there.
In one capacity or another -- volunteer, spectator or just citizen of Prince George -- you'll want to be a part of the Games because, when they arrive two short years from now, we'll all have a unique opportunity to showcase our city and create indelible memories for ourselves and our visitors.