Public input needed: BC Summer Games

The Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) are seeking input from the public

The Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) are seeking input from the public as to whether or not the Cowichan Valley region should submit a bid application to the BC Games Society to host the BC Summer games for 2016 or 2018.

At an open commission meeting on May 24, commission members, including Mayor Ross Forrest, Dave Darling, and Rocky Wise Sr., along with CVRD representatives were presented with information about the application process and the hosting of the games by Linda Blatchford, the manager of Cowichan Lake Parks and Recreation for the CVRD.

Lake Cowichan would be part of an overall bid submission for the CVRD region and if a bid submission is recommended by all the Parks and Recreation committees in the region, Lake Cowichan would most likely benefit from hosting some of the games in the town.

The BC Games Society is funded by the Ministry of Community and Cultural Development, along with partnerships with provincial and national corporations. Together, these bodies provide funding totals of $600,000 for the BC Summer Games, and $525,000 for the BC Winter Games.

However, the hosting municipalities are required to commit funds to the games: a minimum of $45,000 cash and $50,000 of in-kind services and facilities for the planning and staging of the games. Chairperson Dave Darling says that a month ago the commission had a meeting on the economic benefits of the games. “It does not come without a cost,” he says. “I heard that at the (1991) Indigenous Games it came to about half a million dollars in costs to the tax payer of the CVRD.”

Ron Austen, general manager for parks, recreation, and culture for the CVRD pointed out that there is no guarantee that Cowichan Valley municipalities will win the bid, as there are other BC communities also applying. In terms of committing funds, Austen says that there would be a financial commitment from all communities in the Cowichan Valley and that Lake Cowichan would only have to commit a to a portion of the $45,000 and $50,000. He also stated that the cost in tax dollars would not come anywhere near half a million as the Indigenous Games operate under different funding criteria.

The information in the application package states that the games bring significant economic benefit to communities. In 2008, a study of such an impact was conducted in Kelowna which showed that there was $2.6 million in direct spending for the summer games and for the winter games, Cranbrook showed that there was $1.7 million in direct spending.

But the commissioners  and others at the meeting stressed that the benefits are far more than just economic. Forrest says he thinks this is a great opportunity for the community. “Not just for the economic benefit, but for future benefit. I mean, you’ve got people from all over the province coming here and an awful lot of them coming here for the very first time and I think this is a chance to showcase the Cowichan Valley.”

Austen points out that though hosting the games would be a great opportunity for the town, “for the better part of a year leading up that, if you were to get the games you would see a lot of work from staff who would be working really hard to be pulling this off.”

Local and regional schools would also need to be committed to the games as there would be approximately 3,000 athletes that would need accommodations and school buses and other amenities would need to be utilized.

The commission voted unanimously to support the submitting of an application to host the games. However, you can still have your say. The next meeting for those living in the south end is Tuesday, May 29 at 7 p.m. at the Kerry Park Recreation Centre. The last in the series is Tuesday, May 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the Island Savings Centre in Duncan.