Fundraising and provincial cash will be key to raising an estimated $500,000 to help Penticton host the 2016 BC Winter Games.
Chuck Loewen, the city's general manager of recreation services and facilities, who also sat on the bidding committee, says this money will help pay for an estimated 30,000 meals for the participants and volunteers as well as cover costs of transportation, fuel for buses and other activities. About 1,200 athletes will compete in the BC Winter Games, ranging in ages from nine to 19-year-olds. More than 2,000 volunteers will be involved.
“Logistically there is a hell of a lot of a work involved and a lot of volunteering involved to pull off one of these games,” says Loewen.
Other forms of city support will come from in-kind services, such as absorbing the cost of ice rink use in the community's arenas for the hockey, figure skating and curling events.
When the 2016 BC Winter Games came up for bidding, the Penticton bid committee avoided going after the summer games. Loewen says accommodations are scarce during the summer season.
In order for the Penticton bid to go through the bid committee got the support of the area school district as well as the union that represents school district employees and Penticton city council.
He says the school district support was important as not only will some schools provide assistance but the games will take place on two school days.
The 2016 BC Winter Games will not only have sports traditionally associated with winter such as biathlon and cross-country skiing, but also archery, badminton, gymnastics, judo and karate.
“We were just delighted,” in securing the games, says Loewen.
This will be the second time Penticton's hosted the games, with the first being in 1978. It was also the first time the BC Winter Games were held.
Earlier this month, Bill Bennett, BC community and sport minister, says the economic impact on Penticton will be more than $2 million. That might bring a smile to merchants and other business people.
Campbell Watt sounded pleased.
“I'm very excited,” says the president of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce. “Any time you get traffic it generates business.” He added these days every economy, be it a city's or a country's, could use “a kick”.
Loewen explains how Penticton is a natural choice for such events.
“Part of (Penticton's) tourism strategy embraced sport and sport tourism,” says Loewen. “We have a number of sporting events that take place here. We are basically the hockey hub of the Okanagan.”