Final preparations are underway to welcome the world to Lake Banook in August.
In less than two months, Dartmouth, N.S. will embrace hundreds of the world’s most powerful paddlers for Canoe ’22, on Aug. 3 to Aug. 7.
More than 1,000 elite athletes and coaches from more than 70 countries are expected for the 2022 International Canoe Federation’s Canoe Spring and Paracanoe World Championships, a five-day competition in men’s and women’s single, doubles and quad boat races.
“We’re really, really excited. It’s such a big thing for Nova Scotia at this point to have an event like this,” said Canoe ’22 Board Chair Jillian D’Alessio. Organizers made the original bid to host the event back in 2018, at the time, defeating bids from Russia and Romania.
“We just had our 50 days out on Monday, so everything is ramping up in excitement,” D’Alessio said.
Nova Scotia has hosted the international competition only twice before: first in 1997 and then again in 2009. Both events have special meaning for D’Alessio.
“In ’97, I volunteered and I was 12-years-old…And then I raced in ’09 as part of Team Canada, so now to be chairing it kind of just shows the longevity of people in this community and how much we rally behind what it can do,” she said.
Dartmouth’s Connor Fitzpatrick will be competing in August and described it as a “dream come true.”
“To know that I’m going to be able to race on my home water for the first time with a bunch of different countries and some of the best paddlers in the world, it’s going to be super cool and I can’t wait,” said the 23-year-old Olympian, adding he expects the competition to be very intense with a lot of close races.
“If you want to see what the best paddlers in the world can do, that weekend from August 3-7 on Lake Banook is going to be the most hectic, close racing, best to watch paddling you’re going to be able to see.”
Upgrades in the area have been ongoing for months in preparation of the international competition, including a revamp to Silver’s Hill Park.
“New viewing stands have gone in on the lower section, which were never there before, and the concrete bleachers up at the top were replaced,” said district 5 councillor Sam Austin, adding the old bleachers were in “bad shape.”
“We’ve also done some work over at Birch Cove to pave some paths and clear some of the ground to make some way for the athletes village.” He said there’s a “positive buzz” in the community as the event draws closer, and the changes around Lake Banook are not only valuable for special events, but for the residents who enjoy the area all year round.
D’Alessio said there are some legacy infrastructure pieces that will come out of the event, including accessible, low-profile docks, a new 800-buoy course and upgrades to the judging tower.
Aside from the competition, there will be a massive street festival along Prince Albert Road, that will include food, drinks and live music.
“There’s also going to be a marketplace and a number of vendors coming out from the community, so this is really a kind of spectacle for the community,” D’Alessio said.
“In particular what was really important for Canoe ’22 was to have a celebration of kind of coming out of COVID and the pandemic, and we understand that it’s still going on and it’s still a real concern, so a safe, outdoor event is one of our goals.”
She said they’re still looking for volunteers for the five-day event and anticipate they’ll need anywhere from 500-600 in total.