Sport Tourism Industry honoured at 12th Annual Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance’s PRESTIGE Awards

March 8, 2018

Halifax, Nova Scotia:  The breadth of the sport tourism industry in Canada was honoured at the 12th annual Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA) PRESTIGE Awards. The awards recognize events from local to national to major international championships and tournaments and also honour outstanding volunteers and organizations, who work to bid, host and stage sport events across Canada.

“We are proud to honour the tremendous work from organizing committees, individuals, sponsors and communities who were announced as recipients,” said Rick Traer, CEO, Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance. “Everyone nominated for the awards made meaningful contributions to celebrating sport this past year. It is their dedication and commitment to excellence that keeps Canada at the forefront of bidding and hosting events and contributing to the success of the sport tourism industry.”

Recipients were announced on Thursday, March 8, 2018 during the 12th PRESTIGE Awards gala luncheon sponsored by Saskatoon Sports Tourism at the CSTA’s annual Sport Events Congress  at the Halifax Convention Centre. A new recognition was introduced this year, as five people were acknowledged as CSTA Sport Tourism Rising Stars as emerging leaders in the industry.

2018 PRESTIGE Award Recipients

CSTA Canadian Sport Event of the Year Award (Group A: budget greater than $1 million) presented by Ottawa Tourism

Invictus Games Toronto 2017, (Toronto, Ont.)

Much more than an eight-day sporting competition, the Invictus Games Toronto 2017 captured the hearts and minds of Canadians as they witnessed the power of sport to heal. A Paralympic style multi-sport event for physically and mentally wounded servicemen and women, these Games drew 550 competitors from 17 nations. Established by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games are the only international sporting event for ill, wounded and injured active duty and veteran service members. Toronto hosted the 3rd edition of the Invictus Games with competition held in 12 adaptive sports, many using legacy venues from the 2015 Pan American Games. It drew worldwide media attention and streaming was seen in 111 countries.

CSTA Canadian Sport Event of the Year Award (Group B: budget less than $1 million) presented by Ottawa Tourism

BMO NBA Courts Across Canada, (Haida Gwaii, B.C; Saskatoon, Sask.; Brandon, Man.; Kitchener, Ont.; Québec City, Que., Dartmouth, N.S.; Moncton, N.B.)

This multi-city, multi-consumer program extended from an extraordinarily remote and culturally sensitive community in the Queen Charlotte Islands, to New Brunswick. BMO NBA Courts Across Canada is a grassroots initiative to grow the sport of basketball and engage youth via the NBA brand/Players/Legends while promoting physical and mental benefits: fitness, teamwork, personal development and perseverance. In three locations much-needed full refurbishment of local community centres’ indoor basketball courts was provided, including in two First Nation communities. At 15 clinics for local youth, NBA clinicians helped train and motivate youth coaches in each region. The NBA Legends and Players were on the court doing workouts, offering individual shooting tips, motivation and coaching for hours each day, bridging cultural/geographic distances and creating unforgettable and lasting sport experiences.

CSTA International Sport Event of the Year Award presented by Edmonton Events

ATB Tour of Alberta, (Edmonton, Alta.)

The ATB Tour of Alberta is Canada’s first and highest ranked professional road cycling stage race. An international audience of over 40 million viewers witnessed +100 of the world’s best cyclists racing across the diverse and beautiful landscape of Alberta’s urban and rural roads throughout the four-day stage race. More than 30 communities served as an ‘official host community’ and many others were featured as the professional cyclists raced through. At each Start and Finish location, there was a free festival packed with live entertainment, interactive vendors, local food varieties and activities. It has become a signature event in Edmonton, for spectators, and a loyal and passionate volunteer base. Edmonton is the only North American stop on the international Velothon circuit sanctioned by the UCI.

CSTA Sport Event Volunteer of the Year Award presented by Québec Destination affaires

Robbie Larter, Rogers Hometown Hockey Tour; 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge, (Charlottetown, P.E.I.)

Robbie Larter is the ideal volunteer - dedicated and enthusiastic to do whatever it takes to ensure the best outcomes for the municipality/LOC, rights holder, and most importantly the athlete/fan. An active committee member of the 2017 World Sledge Hockey Challenge, Robbie brought her work ethic and drive for seamless organization as Chair of the Medical and Volunteer Committees. Her portfolios had substantial impact on the success of the event, coupled with the experience and care of the athletes. A special needs educator by trade, and a proud local champion, a legacy of this nature is truly near and dear to Robbie’s heart as it allows for the full inclusion of physically disabled athletes in sport.

CSTA Sport Tourism Champion Award presented by ConnectOnCampus

Darrell Cox, Manager, Major Events, Ottawa Tourism, (Ottawa, Ont.)

Over the years Darrell Cox has been involved in numerous bids and host committees, but 2017 was a record year for the number of sporting events hosted in Ottawa, which not only created significant "pride of place" for Ottawa residents, but also generated close to $190M in economic impact for local businesses. Previously Darrell led the development of the partnership between the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism to create the Major Events Office in Ottawa Tourism, creating the City's Bid More, Win More, Host More strategy. He played a key role in partnering with the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Sport Council in the development of the Sport Asset Solution to provide detailed, accessible information on Ottawa’s sport facilities. He has also helped develop the Ottawa House of Sport offering National (NSO) and Multi-Sport (MSO) organizations the opportunity to house their national offices in a feature rich environment.

CSTA Sport Tourism Organization of the Year Award presented by WestJet

Ottawa Tourism, (Ottawa, Ont.)

As part of Ottawa Tourism, the Major Events Office works proactively with local, provincial, national and international sports organizations to attract new events to Ottawa that will have a significant impact on the local economy and enhance Ottawa’s visibility on the world stage. In 2017, Canada celebrated 150 years as a nation and Ottawa 2017, a not-for-profit organization, was established and tasked with creating 12 full months of big, bold, immersive and moving experiences that complemented national celebrations and annual events and festivals. Ottawa Tourism partnered with Ottawa 2017 to attract Big Signature events that animated the entire city and had significant positive impacts for Ottawa’s tourism sector and the city as whole. It culminated in a record setting year for the number of sporting events hosted in Ottawa. In total, Ottawa Tourism bid for and/or supported 24 events that generated close to $200M in local economic impact.

CSTA Sustainable Sport Event of the Year Award presented by CBC Sports

The Rogers Cup presented by National Bank, a Tennis Canada event (Montreal, Que.)

In support of the zero-waste component of Tennis Canada’s Green Plan, only 9% of the waste material generated by 216,097 spectators at The Rogers Cup could not be composted or recycled. Activities included on-site double sorting in the three-choice bins, under the watchfulness of the team of volunteers trained to do so and to the sorting center located behind the venue where all the bags are opened and their content redirected when appropriate. As well, a free shuttle service, the free access to the STM network and a 285-place secured parking lot for bikes were provided. Indigenous plants and flowers requiring little water were used in the decor. Food surplus from catering was distributed to various charity organizations. The paper version of the souvenir magazine was abolished in favour of an electronic application and the daily program was printed on 100%-recycled paper.

Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon, (Halifax, N.S.)


The Scotiabank Blue Nose Marathon has reduced its carbon footprint over the years and improved its environmental footprint. Some of the initiatives in 2017 included: no bottled water, eliminating thousands of plastic water bottles; participants and volunteers were offered free transit and ferry use; leftover shirts and medals were sent to Gambia where they are used for prizing for peace runs and other initiatives; used running shoes were collected on race weekend, keeping shoes out of landfills, and donated to charities; top finishers were presented with a special one-of-a-kind bag produced from reclaimed material from past event banners; the lead car and sweeper car on race weekend are electric hybrid cars; signage is reused from previous years or recycled as stacking boards at water stations; leftover food is donated to the Souls Harbour Rescue Mission to ensure they stay out of landfills. These and other elements have ensured a responsible sustainable event.


CSTA Canadian Sport Event Sponsor of the Year Award presented by Adup Display

Freson Bros. - 2017 Freson Bros. Canadian Ringette Championships, (Leduc, Alta.)

A family-owned, Alberta independent grocer, Freson Bros., was the title sponsor for the 2017 Canadian Ringette Championships. The owners, Mike and Gloria Lovsin wanted to be more than a sponsor, they wanted to be a partner and were both actively involved; Gloria as the Hosting and Athlete Services Chair, while Mike was instrumental in supplying and catering the VIP reception and the closing banquet. Freson Bros. built a volunteer check-in booth that was in keeping with the Wild out West theme and turned the closing banquet into a hoe down. The BBQ and pig roast were cooked and served by Mike Lovsin and his team from the store. A video crew, sponsored by Freson Bros. captured footage and highlights of the event and the athlete experience. With their support a substantial legacy fund was generated with over $170,000 donated to several groups and the ringette clubs responsible for the organization of the event.

CSTA Sport Tourism Rising Stars

Heather Bury, Saskatoon Sports Tourism, (Saskatoon, Sask.)

A graduate of the University of Saskatchewan's Kinesiology program, Heather’s passion for sport in Saskatoon is second to none. As Saskatoon Sports Tourism's Sport and Event Sales Executive for the last seven years, she has worked on such events as the Tim Hortons Brier, MasterCard Memorial Cup, WBSC World Men's Softball Championship, and FIBA 3x3 World Tour. Outside of the office, she donates the majority of her time the football community in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Canada as the equipment manager for the Saskatoon Hilltops, Football Saskatchewan and Football Canada (national) teams. She is a member of the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance Board of Directors and Saskatoon's Friends of the Bowl Foundation.

Jo-Annie Charbonneau, Triathlon Montréal, (Montréal, Que.)

Jo-Annie is an energetic, intelligent, adaptable young woman who has been evolving in amateur sport for many years. A lawyer by trade, with a double degree and a Sports Law Master, a strategic thinker by personality – she is a natural leader with great ability to operationalize any project. She has worked with numerous organizations, guiding them through their organizational cycles, strengthening their foundations and bettering their overall output. Since 2015, she has been the Deputy Director / Legal Counsel of the Montreal International Triathlon, with 20 staff and almost 600 volunteers, bringing a $12M economic impact to the City.

Matt Moore, Rath Eastlink Community Centre, (Truro, N.S.)

Matt is the General Manager of Rath Eastlink Community Center in Truro, Nova Scotia.  This new facility has recently attracted three major sporting events to the region and is well on its way to becoming a key player in the Atlantic Canadian sport tourism sector. Hockey Canada’s World Junior A Challenge, was the most significant event Truro has hosted in decades. Its success was due in no small part due to Matt’s ambitions, intelligence, and accomplishments and included the upgrading of the facilities de-humidification system, resulting in top-quality ice throughout the tournament and an enduring legacy for the community.

Brandon Pickard, Sport Durham (Whitby, Ont.)

Brandon is an emerging talent who continues to build on an already impressive resume. A graduate of the Brock University Sport Management program, Brandon began his career in event management with Golf Canada and Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! He led Tourism Kingston to new heights in sport hosting at the provincial, national, and international level. Brandon has represented Team Canada at the International Sport Accord Convention. Through his continued success in sport, Brandon is now the Manager of Tourism for the Regional Municipality of Durham where he leads the destination marketing organization.

Mike Warkentin, Northlands, (Edmonton, Alta.)

A rising star in the Major Event and Entertainment Industry Mike’s experience and leadership has led to attracting several major sporting events to the Edmonton area. Mike leads a team of professionals who plan and deliver on annual major events such as K-Days and the Canadian Finals Rodeo as well as sport tourism events such as the 2017 Davis Cup - the first time the event had been in Edmonton for 21 years. Mike is the key logistical and booking lead for partnership groups such as Events Edmonton and plays a critical role in attracting business interest from National and International Sport Tourism Organizations.


About the PRESTIGE Awards

PRESTIGE Awards are the CSTA’s marquis Program Recognizing Exceptional Sport Tourism Initiatives, Games & Events. Now in its 12th year, this annual award program shines a spotlight on the dynamic Canadians, places and events that are building our nation’s growing sport tourism industry. 

About the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance (CSTA)

The Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance is a non-governmental, member-based, capacity building organization that promotes sport tourism as a grassroots economic development initiative at the community level. The CSTA services over 500 members across Canada, including 150 municipalities, 300 national and provincial sport, multi-sport and major games organizations and a variety of other sport and tourism industry partners. Sport tourism is the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry in Canada with over $6.5 billion in annual spending by domestic and international visitors.


For more information contact:

Barb MacDonald, CSTA Communications Consultant

Tel: (613) 894-1769
#PRESTIGE @CdnSportTourism
#SEC18  @SportEventsCong