Monday, May 5, 2008

P.E.I. bid for International Island Games pulled

P.E.I. bid for International Island Games pulled

Citing a lack of co-operation from the provincial government, the Island Games Association of P.E.I. has pulled its bid to host the games in 2013.

The International Island Games Association has 25 members, mostly in Europe. The 2007 games in Rhodes attracted 2,000 competitors.

Alfred Groom, president of the Island Games Association of P.E.I., told CBC News Monday the province wants too much representation on the bid committee.

The IGA suggested having two government members and three association members on the committee, while the government wanted two IGA members and six of its own representatives.

"The Island Games Association of Prince Edward Island is a member of the IGA, not the province of Prince Edward Island," said Groom.

"The province acknowledged that, but still insisted that they would have to be in control, so therefore we had no choice but to withdraw our bid given the lack of support of the government of Prince Edward Island."

P.E.I. was in competition with Bermuda for the games, which would be the first held in North America. Carolyn Bertram, the minister responsible for sport, made one of her first trips as a minister to Rhodes for the Island Games last June.

Groom sent a letter to the head of the International Games Association Sunday night. Jorgan Petterson said he was disappointed to hear the decision. He said the Island has one big advantage over Bermuda.

"It's easier to get to P.E.I. than it is to get to Bermuda," said Petterson.

The committee said the games would have brought 4,000 athletes and visitors to the province, and revenues would have topped $10 million.

The province has told CBC News there will be no one available to comment on the issue Monday.

UPDATE: May 5:

Bid to host Island Games scrubbed
Transcontinental Media

P.E.I.'s bid to host the 2013 NatWest International Island Games is dead and organizing committee members are pointing the finger at government as the reason.

Alfred Groom, president of the Island Games Association of Prince Edward Island Inc. announced Monday, the association has, after two years of effort and expense, withdrawn its bid.

He said the province wanted too much control over the bidding process. The association refused and the province withdrew its support.

"We are the only body that can submit the bid and win the bid," Groom said. "The Province, at this time, said they wanted our committee to step aside and they were going to replace them with their people."

Asked why, Deputy Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs Tracey Cutcliffe, said "it's confidential," according to Groom.

Last fall, the association had sought a letter of commitment from the Province to allow work to begin on accessing funds for the games from The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. The bid package was to be presented to the International Games Association by Dec. 28, 2007.

That letter of commitment came from Premier Robert Ghiz on Dec. 24, 2007. But despite the premier's letter, Cutcliffe ended all hopes for the games coming to P.E.I. when she wrote to Groom on Feb. 19, 2008.

The deputy minister made it clear that since the association would not go along with the memorandum of understanding from the province on the bid committee structure "the Province of Prince Edward Island no longer supports the P.E.I. Games Association bid ... financial or in any other regard."

Groom said the association had a high degree of confidence that P.E.I. would have won these games in 2013.

Minister of Community and Cultural Affairs and Labour Carolyn Bertram said it was important the province be a part of the bid process.

"We are trying to be respectful of the taxpayers' dollars for the future," the minister said.

Bertram said the province was willing to work with the association but it needed to be involved in the entire process to ensure Islanders' best interests were protected.

As for the loss of the games, the minister said, "It wasn't the government who pulled the bid, it was the association."

UPDATE: May 6:

Province needed more input on games: Ghiz

The issue of control caused a bid to bring the International Island Games to P.E.I., Premier Robert Ghiz confirmed on Monday.

The Island Games Association of P.E.I. was unwilling to give the province the control it needed on a bid to host the International Island Games, Ghiz told CBC News.

When the P.E.I. group pulled its bid to host the 2013 Island Games on Sunday, it said the province wanted too much control.

The province wanted six seats on the bid committee while the IGA would have two. The IGA suggested two government representatives and three from the association.

"When a bid is put together and the province is on the hook for it, if we're not involved in what the province is actually promising, how do we know what the dollar figures are?" Ghiz said.

"That's why the province has to be involved in an endeavour such as this. And unfortunately this situation didn't turn out."

Local IGA president Alfred Groom said the province was missing out on a potential $10 million economic impact. The International Island Games Association has 25 members, and the last games in Rhodes in June attracted 2,000 athletes.

There's still a chance the bid could be resurrected if a bid committee can be formed by next month.

UPDATE: May 7:

Island Games chair says didn’t ask for provincial money

Transcontinental Medi

SUMMERSIDE — Claims by the Province that they need to control the bid process for the NatWest International Island Games to protect Island taxpayers are groundless, says the P.E.I. games readiness chair.

The Island Games Association withdrew its bid to host the 2013 NatWest International Games, an event that would have drawn over 4,000 athletes and visitors, generated an estimated $10 million in revenue and cost $2.1 million.

The association decided to pull out after the Province gave them an ultimatum — give the Province control over the bid process or get no government support of any kind.

Premier Robert Ghiz and Community Development and Labour Minister Carolyn Bertram claimed government needs the control to protect taxpayers’ dollars.

P.E.I. games readiness chair, Lorraine Robinson, said the bid process does not involve provincial taxpayers’ dollars. “We did not ask the Province for any money for this bid,” she said.

The association was going to ACOA for assistance.

“Based on the structure they (provincial government) were proposing, we would have had no control over where those funds went,” she said.

“We were looking at $100,000 for the types of things we would have needed to do. So they wanted us to go to ACOA, get the money and turn it over to them.”

Robinson said Bertram and all the key Island ministers were given detailed financial reports and a feasibility study.

“There were no questions on the financials that we gave them,” Robinson said.

“They reviewed them twice, and if there were any questions they should have been asked then (in September or November 2007) and not taken us down this road this far and pull out at the end when they didn’t get bid control.”

Opposition demands answers on failed bid to host Island Games

The Guardian

A competition on who’s to blame for P.E.I.’s failed bid to host the 2013 Island Games had the province running up 35 pages of documents supporting its case while the Opposition fought back with 40 pages to make its case.
Islanders were told Monday that the Island Games Association had to withdraw its bid to host the 2013 NatWest International Island Games. The association says the provincial government told the volunteer board it would not continue to offer its support for the bid.
Opposition MLA Jim Bagnall used most of question period Tuesday searching for answers on why the provincial government pulled its support.
Reading from a registered letter sent to the association by Tracey Cutcliffe, deputy minister of Cultural Affairs, Bagnall said it was the provincial government, not the association, that pulled the Island’s bid.
“This is a letter that you wrote, you sent to the volunteer committee on Feb. 19 telling them that you were pulling their support,” Bagnall said during question period.
“Why did your deputy minister undermine the volunteer group for her own personal power struggle?”
Cultural Affairs Minister Carolyn Bertram maintains it was the association, not the provincial government, that pulled the bid.
But Bertram admits the government did pull its support for the bid because the association would not meet the conditions set out by the province. Those conditions were outlined in a memorandum of understanding.
Bertram said the province raised red flags as did other funding partners, including ACOA, about how much these games were going to cost taxpayers to host. She said the original bid was supposed to cost $40,000. Those costs, she added, came in at $200,000.
“Our department tried our very best to work with the Island Games Association of Prince Edward Island,” Bertram said, as she presented 35 pages of documents, including cancelled cheques, to support her side of the fight.
“We wanted this to work for Prince Edward Island.”
Island Games is more than child’s play. It was estimated the games would have generated more than $10 million in revenues.
In an interview with The Guardian, Premier Robert Ghiz said the province had a role to play in protecting taxpayers’ dollars.
Ghiz came under personal attack in a letter from Alfred Groom, president of the Island Games Association. The letter was contained in a package of 40 pages of supporting documents made public by the opposition.
In the letter, dated May 1, Groom writes: “Even though you, as premier on April 21, 2008, stated that you did not think we could win this bid, the Island Games Association of Prince Edward Island had a high degree of confidence.”
Groom went on to say it was “truly unfortunate that as premier of this province, you have allowed this to completely fall apart.”
Ghiz said the province simply wasn’t comfortable with how the association was working.
“This is an unfortunate situation but better now than perhaps later on, who knows, in five years time when it ends up that we promised more than we can deliver,” the premier said. “You’d rather exercise due diligence now than get yourself into trouble later on.”
The association has said it did not want to sign a memorandum of understanding “dictated” by the deputy minister, Tracey Cutcliffe, adding it did not agree to her “threat” that if it did not agree to the terms presented the province would pull its support of the bid.
Bagnall said the association made several attempts to meet with the province, in an attempt to get the matter settled, but they failed to even get a meeting with Bertram.

P.E.I. government accused of

betraying athletes

The Opposition wants to know why the Ghiz government pulled its support for a bid to host the International Island Games in 2013.

The Island Games Association of P.E.I. had been working for more than a year putting together a formal bid, but dropped its bid on Sunday saying the government was trying to take over the process. The province wanted to fill six seats of a proposed eight-member bid committee. The association offered two seats on a five-member committee.

The issue dominated question period Tuesday.

"Why did you betray every Island athlete on Prince Edward Island by withdrawing your support for the bid?" asked Progressive Conservative MLA Jim Bagnall.

Carolyn Bertram, the minister responsible for sport, said the government had tried to work with the volunteer committee. She noted she travelled to the last Island Games, held in Rhodes last June, to announce that P.E.I. would be bidding on the games. She said the issue came down to ensuring taxpayer's money was spent wisely.

"We had serious concerns. Yes we wanted this to work, but Madame Speaker, we wanted to make sure that the province of Prince Edward Island and taxpayers' dollars were well protected and we wanted to be involved in the bid process," said Bertram.

The Rhodes event attracted 2,000 athletes from the association's 25 member Islands, and the opposition said the province had killed the opportunity to host it on P.E.I. to host the 2013 games on Prince Edward Island.

There's still a chance the bid could be resurrected, if another committee can be formed to put a bid together by the end of next month.

Athletes disappointed

Athletes looking ahead to the Games are disappointed they've lost a chance to perform before a hometown crowd.

Stan Chaisson is an Island runner who won medals in Rhodes.

"It was a great event for not only the athletes but I think the Island in general," said Chaisson.

"These are elite athletes, and to have had them here on P.E.I. from all across the world is just amazing. As an athlete there's no better way to compete than at home and to have hopefully fans that are there to cheer you on. It would be great, and I'm going to miss out on this."

Chaisson won two of the 16 medals Prince Edward Islanders brought home from the Island Games.

UPDATE: May 8:

In this case, let the games cease
P.E.I. appears to be passing up a golden opportunity by not bidding
for the NatWest International Island Games

The Guardian

An apparent misunderstanding between the provincial government and the committee that was formed to bid for the 2013 NatWest International Island Games can only be described as unfortunate and disappointing. It’s not clear who did what to whom, but because the parties don’t see eye to eye, Prince Edward Island stands to lose the opportunity to bid for this event and the multi-million economic spinoffs it potentially could create for the provincial economy.
The Island Games Association of Prince Edward Island stunned Islanders early this week when it announced it has withdrawn its bid to host the Games. Despite the many months of volunteer work and a commitment from the premier secured earlier, the committee said the province apparently wanted too much control over the bidding process. The province, of course, has its side of the story. Carolyn Bertram, minister of Communities, Cultural Affairs and Labour, said the province was willing to work with the committee, but that it wanted to be involved in the entire process to ensure Islanders’ interests were protected.
This story was confusing when it broke early this week, but it’s become even murkier as each day passes. In the legislature this week, for instance, questions from the Opposition and the responses from government did nothing to enlighten Islanders about the disagreement between the province and the bid committee. Some things should be a matter of fact, not spin. Is the province expected to cough up cash for the bid process or not? What specific control does the province want before it would support the bid, and which is so objectionable to the committee? What control is the bid committee insisting on that is unacceptable to the province?
We say: let the games, specifically the ones being played by the disputing parties, cease. Both sides of this dispute — that is, the bid committee and the province — need a time-out here so they can regain perspective.
The 2013 NatWest International Island Games, if awarded to P.E.I., were expected to bring 4,000 international athletes and visitors to the province and generate $10 million in revenue. That would have translated into a significant injection into the local economy.
Are the disagreements between the committee and government really that irreconcilable? Could not some compromise have been worked out to satisfy both sides?
It’s unclear whether it’s too late to resolve the dispute, but if it’s not, both parties should try again to put their differences to rest. If it is too late, then Islanders have no choice but to learn from the experience and move on. The specific lesson would be that sometimes in trying to win the turf battle, you lose the war. P.E.I. appears to be passing up a golden opportunity here to compete for an international games, which, if won by the province, would have attracted thousands of visitors from across the globe to our shores. For a province whose second major industry is tourism and which needs all the exposure it can get, winning the Games would have been a big coup. The news that the province now won’t even be trying to get them amounts to a big loss.

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