Summer games will bring added sparkle to lake

It’s always exciting when competitive events bring athletes and spectators to a town.

It’s always exciting when competitive events bring athletes and spectators to a town.

For the Cowichan Valley, hosting the BC Summer Games means a lot. It will impact the whole area, and even Lake Cowichan will be given its piece of the pie, says the town’s mayor.

“Hosting the BC Summer Games for 2018 is a big benefit for the entire Cowichan region,” Mayor   Ross Forrest commented. “I have heard from the organizers that we will get a few of the events at Cowichan Lake. These games will bring thousands of people to our area, many for the first time.”

A lot of people put a lot of time and thought into assembling the 34-page bid the Cowichan Valley Regional District made against strong contenders such as Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver.

It featured the mandatory technical information, but also evidence of the community’s willingness to get behind the games, including more than 75 letters of support from various sports organizations, political bodies, and service and community groups.

The Games involve 22 sports which will be held in 26 venues, and the obvious ones for this area will likely involve the lake and the river.

Canoe/kayak, rowing or even waterboarding are some of the events that come to mind.

Or why not cycling? The road around the lake provides many challenges not to mention  its stunning scenic beauty that could be a draw for a cycling circuit.

For now, though, people can start to anticipate the economic spin-off for the area from tourism. Local officials estimate the four-day games will pump about $2.6 million into the local economy through rentals, hotels, retail purchases, bistros and much more.

“We have a real opportunity to showcase what a great place we have to offer for beauty and affordability.” Forrest said. “I know many people will be impressed when they see the area.”

At the official announcement made by the BC Games Society in the Cowichan Aquatic Centre foyer at 10 a.m. on Jan. 25, the many benefits of hosting the games — including those for local youths who will compete in the games — was evoked by the Cowichan Tribes’ elder Albie Charlie and Parksville’s Liberal MLA Ron Cantelon.

“Youth gives us purpose in life, and pride,” Charlie said, while Cantelon said to all those present, “Get ready Cowichan!”

The games legacy is estimated by North Cowichan’s parks and recreation manager Ernie Mansueti to hit about $200,000. That purse will help fund registrations, through KidSport Cowichan, for local athletes, he said.

Provincial taxpayers will provide some $600,000 toward the July games, while Cowichan Valley Regional District taxpayers will kick in base funding. Regional chairman Rob Hutchins expressed his contentment by saying Cowichan’s “culture, exceptional environment, and hospitality” await players, families, fans, and officials to the games he calls a gift to the Cowichan region.


— with files from the News Leader Pictorial