With the Penticton 2016 B.C. Winter Games on the horizon, the city is already looking to the next hosting opportunity.
On March 16, Penticton city council gave city staff a unanimous go-ahead to make a bid for the 2018 or 2019 55+ B.C. Games. Penticton last hosted the B.C. Seniors’ Games (as they were formerly known) in 2004. These games involve as many as 4,000 registered participants, athletes coaches and officials, competing in up to 30 events.
Council had previously, in 2013, approved bidding for the 2017 games.
“We did not go for that because we were in the bid application process for the B.C. Winter Games and this would have been too much stress on our volunteer program. We set the senior games aside for a later date,” said acting city manager Chuck Loewen.
Loewen told council there are a number of benefits to hosting the games, including an economic boost expected to be in the $2-million range and a legacy fund distributed in the community after hosting the games. The bid application would require a commitment of at least $60,000 cash and $55,000 in-kind services and facilities from the city. The community would also have to fundraise from between $100,000 and $200,000 cash and in-kind to offset the budget expenses and provide for a post-games legacy.
Coun. Judy Sentes was concerned about volunteer fatigue if the games were hosted too close to the 2016 B.C. Winter Games, wondering if a two-year respite would be enough.
Loewen said that was why he suggested they not bid for the 2017 games.
“You can bid for one, two, or all three. We may be more apt to pull off a great event in either 2018 or 19,” said Loewen. The games could fall in either August or September, but Loewen said they are planning to seek a date in September, in the shoulder season.
That could bring the event into conflict with the annual dragon boat festival, but Loewen said he has already spoken with Don Mulhall, the event organizer about working to find synergies, since dragon boats are one of the events in the 55+ B.C. Games.
“This works well as a collaboration, either with having a joint event with the dragon boat festival or possibly an extension of the event.
Tying in with the already popular dragon boat festival could make a greater economic impact, according to Loewen.