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Charlottetown hosts rally in bid for 2023 Canada Winter Games

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The co-chair of P.E.I.’s 2023 Canada Winter Games bid committee said he was left with goosebumps at the community support.

It was Charlottetown’s turn to show off on Thursday at Founders’ Hall after the national bid evaluation committee visited Summerside the day before.

“I think we’ve put together a really great presentation,’’ said Wayne Carew. “We had a dozen senior leadership volunteers that stepped up to the plate and took control over their areas and, I think, did a fantastic job. My impression is that the evaluation committee thought the same thing.’’

Ava and Lily Rashed, local stepdancers, and the Island Gymnastics Academy were among the entertainers and demonstrations at Thursday’s rally. The Charlottetown Islanders major junior hockey team also showed up, posing for dozens of pictures with residents from the community.

The national bid evaluation committee has been on P.E.I. for the last couple of days with its team of eight people to tour facilities, hear presentations and get a taste of Island culture.

The national bid team was escorted into Founders’ Hall by bagpiper Larry Fitzpatrick and greeted by Premier Wade MacLauchlan.

“Outstanding. It was really outstanding,’’ said Evan Johnston, chairman of the bid evaluation committee when asked what impressions he’s been left with. “(P.E.I. has) certainly made us feel great.’’

Johnston had high praise for the P.E.I. bid committee.

“Not only do they have the experience and have built a committee, it’s the right level of experience in the respective areas. They’ve built a committee that’s ethical, honest and transparent about the province and they should be very proud of what they have displayed over the last couple of days.’’

While an actual final decision hasn’t been made yet, it’s been two years since P.E.I. all but clinched the honour of hosting the 2023 Canada Winter Games. While the national committee is in town to officially evaluate the host package, one can argue it’s been a done deal since September 2016. The Island was originally slated to host the Games in 2031 but P.E.I. and the Northwest Territories agreed to switch spots in the hosting rotation two years ago.

Still, Brian McFeely, P.E.I.’s other co-chair, said complacency hasn’t set in.

“Really, the last of days was about putting our best foot forward and really that was quite easy,’’ McFeely said. “They were here to meet the people and get a feel from the group around it and I think we delivered on that. One of the clichés we used on the bid was individuals score goals, teams win championships and we have a team that is going to deliver a championship Games.’’

P.E.I. previously hosted the winter Games in 1991 and the summer Games in 2009.

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