P.E.I. puts on final touches ahead of Canada Winter Games

'For some it'll be the beginning of a career, they'll move on to much bigger and better things. This is a stepping stone to the Olympics or professional sports,' Canada Winter Games CEO Brian McFeely says. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
'For some it'll be the beginning of a career, they'll move on to much bigger and better things. This is a stepping stone to the Olympics or professional sports,' Canada Winter Games CEO Brian McFeely says. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

With only two months left to go, Prince Edward Island is putting on the final touches ahead of the highly anticipated 2023 Canada Winter Games.

Few are as excited as staff and volunteers, as they've been counting down the sleeps for years — and soon there won't be many left to count.

"It's getting very intense, it's getting real for a lot of people," said Brian McFeely, CEO of the 2023 Canada Winter Games. "Every day is a day less, so the planning is moving forward at a feverishly [fast] pace."

People across the Island have been planning this event for more than five years, McFeely said, which has meant making massive upgrades to local facilities and building brand new ones to make sure the games are as spectacular as can be.

Some of those projects include a new domed field in Summerside, a new arena in North Rustico, big improvements at Brookvale and much more.

"That's the reason we get involved in this is to make sure that we have a good legacy for sport on P.E.I," McFeely said. "That was my motivation from the start."

'This is a stepping stone for the Olympics'

At this point all the facilities are up and running and much that's left are touch-ups, maybe a fresh coat of paint and some signage.

There will be roughly 3,600 athletes at the games and 4,500 volunteers, McFeely said, but the goal is 5,000. There is a last call for volunteers coming soon. Islanders may have already seen people around the province with Canada Winter Games 2023 backpacks, shirts and outerwear.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

McFeely says they are some of the best kits he's ever seen for the Canada Games, and volunteers are excited to see more of the gear roll out in the new year.

The Canada Winter Games are expected to cost around $52 million, and the economic impact will be "well north" of $100 million, McFeely said — adding that there will be an "extensive economic impact study" following the games in order to get a full view of how much money was generated.

Looking back, McFeely said it's been quite a journey to get to where they are now from a small team at one table to thousands of people working together to give the country a Canada Games it'll never forget.

"For some it'll be the beginning of a career, they'll move on to much bigger and better things. This is a stepping stone to the Olympics or professional sports," he said.

"For others this could be the pinnacle of their athletic career, so we want to be able to celebrate that as well. I think each athlete will come here with different goals and hopefully when they leave they've achieved some of those goals they've set for themselves."