The 2018 BC Summer Games have already had a lasting impact on the Cowichan Valley.
Thanks to $120,000 in legacy funding that was handed out last Friday, that impact will be even longer and stronger.
Six local organizations split the $120,000, with the announcement made during an event at the Cowichan Sportsplex.
For all intents and purposes, it marked the final step for the 2018 Games, in the eyes of Games president Jen Woike.
“I know it was over a year ago,” she commented. “But this feels like the end of the end of the end.”
Woike noted a number of other high-water marks that were achieved by the Cowichan Games, including having the highest number of Friends of the Games donors per capita in BC Games history, an ongoing legacy of physical literacy, the song “Colours” — which singer-songwriter Lindsay Elzinga performed to open Friday’s event — merchandise “that people actually wanted to buy,” the use of Hul’qumi’num on Games signage, and opening ceremonies that drew a crowd of 8,500 to Laketown Ranch.
As well, the Games led to new permanent and semi-permanent infrastructure for sports organizations in the Cowichan Valley and throughout B.C.: a new dock at Art Mann Park on Quamichan Lake, starting blocks for the Cowichan Aquatic Centre competition pool, a new wrestling mat for BC Wrestling, and new portable bike racks for Triathlon BC.
Political figures, including North Cowichan mayor Al Siebring and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Alistair MacGregor, who volunteered at the Games, also reflected on what the event meant and will mean to the Cowichan Valley.
“When we’re thinking about legacy, it’s not so much the physical things that are left behind, the athletes and what they’ve accomplished,” MacGregor said. “But it’s the memories that we as a community are going to have.”
Alison Noble, the president and CEO of the BC Games Society, spoke about the importance of the legacy the BC Games leave in a host community.
“The BC Games is really all about legacy,” she said. “It’s either the facilities and venues that are left after the games leave town, or it’s that living legacy, which is the volunteers, of which we have a number of you here tonight, and the thousands of others that are out in the community that helped make these games happen. Or there’s that social legacy, which is where a community is galvanized by something like this and it comes together with a common vision and purpose and does an amazing job. And then of course the reason we’re here tonight, which is the financial legacy.”
Noble called the 2018 games’ financial legacy “a sizable one.” All legacy fund recipients need to be approved by the BC Games Society.
The largest share of the $120,000 in legacy money was presented to the Cowichan Sportsplex, where it will go toward the building of a fieldhouse on the property. Woike noted that the original seed money for the Sportsplex came from legacy funds from the 1991 BC Winter Games that the Cowichan Valley hosted.
Another $25,000 went to KidSport Cowichan, which helps provide financial support for registration fees and equipment for young athletes. Cowichan Tribes received $20,000 toward the resurfacing of the Sie’m Lelum Gym floor.
Only a certain amount of legacy funding can go toward non-sports causes, and the trustees of the Cowichan money opted to donate $20,000 to Cowichan Valley Performing Arts Foundation, which provides financial assistance for young people in the performing arts in the Valley.
The Town of Ladysmith, which constructed beach volleyball courts when the Cowichan Games organizers asked them to help out, received for upgrades to the pool at Frank Jameson Community Centre.
“The town of Ladysmith really came out for the Games,” Woike commented. “And it really showed what the community of communities that we have within our region did for us.”
School District 79, which also provided significant support for the Games, including housing all competitors at the game in classrooms, received $5,000 for a piece of local First Nations art to be displayed at the proposed replacement for Cowichan Secondary School.