In a matter of days, thousands of youth from all over Ontario will once again descend on Orillia for the 2020 Ontario Winter Games.
The sporting spectacle will kick off on Feb. 27 and run until March 1.
“We are truly honoured to host the Games,” Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke said in a statement Friday.
“We had the benefit of hosting in 2018 and we certainly learned a lot from that very exciting and successful experience.”
According to Jed Levene, the chair of the Games Organizing Committee, there will be about 3,500 participants between the ages of 12 and 18 from across Ontario competing in 27 different sports. On top of that, Levene said, 5,000 to 6,000 guests are expected.
“We expect to be well over 9,000 people brought to the area over the course of the games,” he added.
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According Levene, there’s been roughly just over $1 million spent to run the Orillia 2020 Ontario Winter Games in total.
“The exciting part about that is that we’re expecting an economic impact of over $5 million,” he said. “The neat thing about that is that probably about $4 [million] of the $5 million will stay directly in the communities where the games take place.”
There are several venues where the Games will occur, Levene said, which are located in Barrie, Orillia and the townships in between, as well as Bracebridge.
“One of our objectives with these games was to really shrink the footprint of the games to improve the overall athlete experience,” Levene added. “We’ve been able to keep everything within a 30-minute radius of Orillia.”
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The opening ceremony will take place on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Centennial Park in Orillia, where the Games’ mural, “Inspired: The Road to Gold,” by local artist Craig Mainprize, will be revealed.
Clarke, Ontario’s lieutenant governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell and Lisa MacLeod, the province’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, will welcome participants to the Games. The opening ceremony will conclude with fireworks.
The parking lots at Couchiching Beach Park, Centennial Park and Orillia Waterfront Centre will be closed from Feb. 26 to 28.
Orillia road closures from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Feb. 27:
There will also be a temporary Orillia Transit detour on the Laclie route on Feb. 27. The bus will not be travelling on Jarvis Street between Canice and Bay streets, and from Bay Street between Jarvis Street and Borland Street East. The Laclie route will instead turn onto Canice Street to Borland Street East to access Bay Street to resume the regular route.
“On behalf of council, I would like to thank the volunteers, the Games Organizing Committee, the generous sponsors and our staff, who have all dedicated their time and resources to planning what will be a very memorable and positive experience for the Games participants and their families,” Clarke said in a statement.
“With over 850 volunteers, our community has proven once again the dedication and passion that exists in Orillia and we are proud to showcase this for the entire province.”
Orillia will be partnering with the Chippewas of Rama First Nation, the City of Barrie, the Township Oro-Medonte and the Town of Bracebridge to deliver the Games.
The Orillia 2020 Ontario Winter Games is supported by the Government of Ontario through its Games Ontario program, which delivers and supports multi-sport events.