OKANAGAN - Long before the competitors in the B.C. 55+ Games face off against each other at the annual event, there is a competition of another sort amongst B.C. communities vying to host the games.
This year, Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton are all submitting competing bids to host the popular event. The competition is going to be stiff and it remains to be seen who has the edge.
“Of course, I like to think we do,” Mariko Siggers says, event development supervisor with the City of Kelowna. “I certainly don’t want to take away from the Vernon and Penticton bids but we have a lot to offer.”
All three communities were invited to submit bids by the B.C. Seniors Games Society, as were many other communities in the province. Penticton has decided to focus on a bid for 2018 and 2019. Kelowna would prefer 2019 but will consider 2017 or 2018. Vernon will take any of the three years.
Penticton is hoping its experience hosting the next year's 2016 B.C. Winter Games will help its bid. It last held the seniors games in 2004.
Vernon is touting the new sports track next door to the Okanagan College Vernon campus and its partnership with the nearby town of Armstrong as its edge. Plus Vernon held the first seniors games in 1988.
Kelowna last held the seniors games in 2000 and is emphasizing its size and the quality of its facilities as its ace-in-the-hole. It also has previous experience as host of the B.C. Summer Games in 2008, the B.C. Disability Games in 2003 and the International Children’s Winter Games in 2011.
“We have a vibrant community with excellent facilities all within our boundaries,” says Siggers.
An obvious sticking point is whether holding the games in any of the Okanagan cities in 2017 means they organizing committee will look elsewhere for 2018 and 2019, but Siggers says that’s not necessarily a deal-breaker.
“I don’t want to speak for the society and it makes sense to move it around but it’s also going to depend on the quality of the bids and who else applies,” she says. “I don’t think its out of the question for the B.C. Seniors Games Society to hold the games two different years in the valley.”
Siggers describes all of this as friendly competition, but points out the three communities did not consult each other in advance about their bid plans, although she would not rule it out for other events.
“We are certainly open to partnering when it makes sense.”
All three communities have until June 26 to submit their bids and will likely learn the outcome a month later.
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