After preparing for the 2013 Canada Summer Games for years, organizers in Sherbrooke are heaving a sigh of relief.
"It's a unique experience we had and we are very proud of the games," said Pierre Blanger, a special director in the city of Sherbrooke's sports department. "And I think the people that came - athletes, coaches and mission chiefs - everybody was very happy with what happened here."
According to Blanger, preparations for the Games began long before Sherbrooke even submitted their bid.
"We started thinking of having the Canada Games in 1998 - 15 years ago," he said. "We knew that Quebec was supposed to receive the Games in 2013."
From Aug. 2 to 17, Sherbrooke and neighbouring cities Coaticook and Magog were ground zero for more than 3,400 of the country's best and brightest summer athletes.
"Without blowing your own horn, you think you put your best foot forward and put your energies into it and so far the feedback has been wonderful," said Tom Allen, chair of the Canada Summer Games - Sherbrooke 2013 board of directors and executive committee. "Everybody said it was an amazing event, an event that brought the community together."
More than 6,300 people volunteered for the Sherbrooke games, with about 95 per cent of them locally sourced, said Allen. With a volunteer target of 5,500, there was a large buy-in of community support.
"We didn't say no to anybody," Allen said.
During the games, 2013 organizers met with members of the 2015 Canada Winter Games Host Society from Prince George.
Blanger said one of the lessons the Quebec team imparted towards making a successful games was to take advantage of any partnerships with local post-secondary institutions as well as having a strong association between the municipality and the host society.
The economic impact of the games has yet to be determined, said Allen, as the local chamber of commerce and tourism branch still have to study hotel occupancy rates and other indicators.
"Most people are satisfied with it," Allen said. "A few restaurants said they would have like to have been busier, but that was really their job to get people in to eat, not necessarily our responsibility."
Parents travelling with high-calibre athletes are accustomed to the grind and seemed to be more likely to hit grocery stores, said Blanger, while the athletes themselves took their meals at Bishop's University, where they were housed.
According to the Canada Games, the last Summer Games hosted in 2009 by Prince Edward Island generated $81.5 million. The 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax brought in $131 million.
Blanger said the city of Sherbrooke contributed about $12 million to the Games, which was supplemented by about $4 million from the Universit de Sherbrooke and $6 million from the federal government and other sponsor contributions. While some venues, such as the track were already in place, others like a brand new 25-metre pool, eight tennis courts and a beach volleyball court in an ice arena had to upgraded or constructed.
The budget for the Sherbrooke Games was about $50 million, said Allen.
Part of the 2013 legacy for the city was the investment of $1 million from the games operating budget to create the Canada Games 2013 Fund. Interest from the money will be used to develop sporting excellence in the region.
"I think it's a heck of an experience for a community to have the opportunity to host and I think it does wonders for any and all communities that actually do get that chance to do it," said Allen. "Our goal was to the do the best we could do. Now Prince George just has to do the best that they can do."