B.C.'s 2018 Summer Games are Cowichan bound

Cowichan high school basketball players Katie Porter, Courtney Jones and Samantha Jory listen Friday as Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon announces the valley
Cowichan high school basketball players Katie Porter, Courtney Jones and Samantha Jory listen Friday as Parksville MLA Ron Cantelon announces the valley's hosting of the 2018 B.C. Summer Games.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

What was perhaps Cowichan's worst-kept secret was let out of the duffel bag with Friday morning's announcement B.C.'s 2018 Summer Games will be hosted by the valley.

After a blessing by Cowichan Tribes' elder Albie Charlie, the good news was delivered by Parksville's Liberal MLA Ron Cantelon to a packed Cowichan Aquatic Centre foyer.

Both men, and other officials, touted benefits for local youths competing in the games.

"Youths give us purpose in life, and pride," Charlie said.

"It all begins here," said Cantelon, noting the games' potential economic spin-offs.  "Get ready Cowichan."

Cowichan's NDP MLA, Bill Routley, was invited to Friday's 10 a.m. kick off, but was healing from heart surgery.

Provincial taxpayers will provide some $600,000 toward the July games, while Cowichan Valley Regional District taxpayers will kick in base funding.

Local officials estimate the four-day games will pump about $2.6 million into the local economy through rentals, hotels, retail purchases, bistros and much more.

But beyond bucks, the games' real legacy will likely be life lessons taught to youths preparing for, and sharing in, the games, explained local Olympic freestyle skier Dr. Tanya Clarke-Young.

"This will be a training ground," she said of local kids who may qualify for the Olympics after gaining games experience.

"Better to learn here than at the Olympics."

An amped Clarke-Young also talked of using the mind to envision and reach goals.

"I always set little goals to get to the bigger goals," she said, stressing "sticktoitiveness to keep going."

"These skills are transferable."

Cowichan school superintendent Joe Rhodes also touted local teamwork. "No one succeeds alone."

Regional Chairman Rob Hutchins agreed, noting Cowichan's "culture, exceptional environment, and hospitality" await players, families, fans, and officials to the games he called "a gift to the Cowichan region."

The games legacy was estimated by North Cowichan's parks and recreation manager Ernie Mansueti to hit about $200,000.

That purse will help fund registrations, through KidSport Cowichan, for local athletes.

"We don't want any kid not to play sports because of monetary reasons," Mansueti said.

Regional Direct Loren Duncan was also stoked about national media, and financial gains, coming to Cowichan in 2018.

"The multipliers will be significant. We're casting a fairly broad net here."

The games' Cowichan debut will see 22 sports played in 26 local venues.

Cowichan beat bids by Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver to host the competitions.

The Warm Land hosted the 2008 North American Indigenous Games, the 2005 B.C. Seniors Games, and the 1991 B.C. Winter Games.

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