City to bid on 2018 BC Winter Games

The city will hold off on holding the BC Winter Games in order to accommodate two large construction projects

The city will hold off on holding the BC Winter Games in order to accommodate two large construction projects.

In February, council made a decision to put in a bid to host the 2016 BC Winter Games.

However, last week city staff recommended waiting until 2018 to play host to the games.

“In 2016 both the hospital and BC Hydro (John Hart Dam) construction projects will be underway and it is anticipated that local accommodation facilities will be fully booked by crews associated with these large projects,” Milnthorp said. “In order to accommodate the games and to maximize the economic impact of the event, staff are recommending that council…instead bid to host the 2018 BC Winter Games.”

Council agreed, including councillor Andy Adams who put forth the original motion to host in 2016.

“Since I put this on Mr. Milnthorp I thought I’d take some of the pressure off him and give him two years,” Adams joked at a council meeting June 26. “Mr. Milnthorp correctly identified that 2016, while very ambitious, has two infrastructure projects on the go.”

Milnthorp noted hosting the games is “a large undertaking” and will involve hundreds of volunteers, a financial commitment from the city as well as a commitment from School District 72 which would have to lend school buses and drivers as well as suspend school for two days during the games.

Mount Washington would also have to commit to allowing the use of its ski slopes, lodge and other facilities.

But the city does have a little experience.

“I know Campbell River previously hosted the Winter Games and it was a tremendous success,” Adams said in February after council agreed to put in a bid for 2016. “The 1997 Winter Games were absolutely outstanding, so I figured we’d do it again.”

Council last week committed to spend $45,000 in cash for the organizing committee and an additional $50,000 of in-kind services and facilities to be included in the 2016 financial plan.

The city’s application package will also need to include a list of all major events it has hosted in the past five years; a list of potential facilities for accreditation, dining, opening and closing ceremonies, and a medical clinic; and letters of support from sport, community and other groups.

The BC Winter Games typically involves 2,000 participants of average age between 13-15 years.

The BC Games is considered a stepping stone for young athletes to national and international competitions and to multi-sport competitions like the Canada Games and the Olympic or Paralympic Games.