More spending needed to bring Kelowna big events

By Julie Whittet

Citizens may soon expect to see bigger events in Kelowna, and more often. The city has recently decided it needs to pursue a more aggressive strategy if it wants to host popular cultural and sporting events.

Don Backmeyer, the city's event development manager, says this is a new initiative for Kelowna. Up until recently, the city has been waiting to receive requests.

“We were more in a reactive mode, and waited for the event to come to us,” Backmeyer says. The city is now switching gears to become more proactive about procuring major events.

The new strategy aims to bring more cultural events to Kelowna, with a particular focus on hosting more outdoor events, like the annual Centre of Gravity festival, staged in City Park.

The idea was partially inspired by the way other municipalities attract big events.  Backmeyer says Kamloops contributed $50,000 to make sure they could host the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier curling championship. He says major events like these “are looking for the host community to put up some money.”

It is increasingly common for corporations to manage popular sporting and cultural events, and they expect the host city to offer financial support. In return, these events bring big crowds and big dollars to the city. “We get an economic benefit when an event brings in thousands of marathon runners,” Backmeyer says.

What should we expect in the coming year? They city is working closely with tourism Kelowna, researching potential events. Backmeyer says people can look forward to the Wine Country Half Marathon, taking place this September.

As for hosting big names and bands in the music industry, that is largely up to privately managed, indoor venues.  Backmeyer says concerts with popular bands “tend to happen indoors,” and fall in the territory of venues like Prospera Place.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Julie Whittet at or call (250) 718-0428.

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