Special Olympics

2018 Special Olympics hosting location up in the air

Special Olympics Nova Scotia's request for $300,000 rejected due to location debate
Special Olympics Nova Scotia’s request for $300,000 rejected due to location debate   Taylor Olie

A Halifax advisory committee has rejected a request from Special Olympics Nova Scotia (SONS) for $300,000 to host the 2018 national summer games, raising questions about where it will be held.

SONS is looking at Halifax and Antigonish as possible host cities and asked Halifax for an event grant of $300,000 to help fund the bid.

On Wednesday, the special events advisory committee voted to reject the request for the full amount, recommending the city cap it at $100,000 – the same host fee as Antigonish.

“I almost feel like we are viewed as a pot of money,” said committee member Jeff Ransome, general manager of Marriott International. “If this $200,000 is just an estimate on transportation and rooming fees, I feel like we are potentially being taken advantage of.”

Both Halifax and Antigonish have the facilities and accommodations to support a national event.

SONS says it costs more to bus athletes around Halifax to different venues, which is why it needs the extra $200,000. In Antigonish, athletes could walk.

Michael Greek, president and CEO of SONS, stands by his numbers.

“We secured quotes from a few bus companies and they all came out about the same. That’s where the $200,000 figure came from,” said Greek.

Greek says Special Olympics Canada would be happy with either location, although families might prefer Halifax over Antigonish because there’s more to do in the city. However, he says, Antigonish has some advantages.

“From an athlete and coach experience, there is probably a stronger feeling that Antigonish could provide a more enjoyable experience because there wouldn’t be so much transport involved for the athletes,” he said.

Elizabeth Taylor, manager of events and cultural initiatives at the Halifax Regional Municipality, said Halifax would be looking at an attendance of approximately 25,000 versus the 2,500 that the event has seen in previous years.

She said Antigonish would have a smaller attendance.

Greek says without the transportation funding, Halifax couldn’t work as a location.

The advisory committee’s recommendation is off to regional council for approval.