40 years of BC Games Legacy Initiatives and Capital Investments
40th Anniversary Feature Article
The BC Winter and BC Summer Games have always been more than four days of sport and community celebration. Since their inception in 1978, the Games have created legacies of both human performance and sport investment. This article focuses on the latter.
The financial legacy of any BC Games consists of budget savings, merchandise sales, and interest gained through the Games planning cycle. Former BC Games Society CEO Roger Skillings stated, “In creating this financial legacy policy in 1989, the BC Games would increase community spirit through corporate and business investment, while creating financial legacies which would benefit the community for years to come”. Past BC Games communities have seen legacy investments range from $60,000 to almost $200,000. Society policy promotes investment back to sport and recreation as well as diverse initiatives related to the community at large.
“Kamloops was going through an identity crisis in the late ‘70’s”, said Sean Smith, Kamloops’ Tournament Capital Coordinator. “The Kamloops 1979 BC Winter Games were such a hit that it caused the community to take notice of what hosting can do for the community spirit.”
Indeed. Since that time the city has gone on to become Canada’s Tournament Capital hosting sport and cultural events from a few dozen to several thousand participants, provincially and internationally. Not happy with simply hosting, the creation of lasting legacies became critical to the sustainability of their work, and spawned several funds in support of hosting, athlete and coach development, and infrastructure support. Smith went on to mention that several thousand dollars are still granted each year from the Kamloops 1979 BC Winter Games legacy.
In Abbotsford, host of two BC Summer Games, lasting legacies were also important to the vision of a successful event. Partnering with the Abbotsford Foundation, the Games continues to provide annual high school scholarships to deserving student athletes, while other dollars went to a community stage, still in use almost every weekend since their first BC Summer Games in 2004. The 2004 BC Summer Games President, Milt Walker stated, “If the BC Games are able to leave dollars for the advancement of young people and the community, it is the best investment a Games can make.” Mr. Walker proudly presents those scholarships every June.
On Vancouver Island, the Cowichan Valley was host to the BC Winter Games in 1991. A persistent BC Winter Games President, Ron Austen was given permission to defer decisions around their legacy as momentum grew toward the creation of the Cowichan Sportsplex. An initial investment in 1996 to create a track and field facility has grown immensely to include a water based artificial turf facility for field hockey, softball / slo-pitch diamonds, soccer fields, a lacrosse box, and numerous all ages playgrounds and walking trails. Those facilities benefitted from investments by local, regional and provincial governments, as well as spirited families and local business.
In all three communities, local vision and sound policy have created opportunities for sustained facilities and increased capacity for each community and surrounding region. Facilities engage its citizens in activity, provide for sport tourism benefits, and support the growth of people through educational assistance.
In April 2017, the BC Games Society announced its Powering Potential Fund in partnership with the National Sport Trust Fund and Sport BC. Contributions to this Fund are tax deductable, making philanthropy one more way the society can leverage government’s overall investment while benefitting the host city and sport in general. The Fund becomes a vehicle to strategically invest in projects that will further the development of individual athletes, teams, sport organizations and communities. To date, bursaries and equipment purchases have been completed, building capacity in sport, while supporting young athletes and coaches on their pathway to success.
So the BC Games are far more than four days of sport and community celebration. They are a unique catalyst for growth, for enhancing the community spirit, and re-investing in communities which give so much to host BC’s best young athletes, coaches and officials.