With the 55+ BC Games coming up in the fall, the first big step in getting the communities of Kimberley and Cranbrook ready for them has been taken with the opening of the official office for the Games in the old Community Futures building on Slater Road in Cranbrook.
Kimberley Mayor Don McCormick pointed out during his address to the crowd at the open house on Wednesday that the he was on the Community Futures board for eight years, and so the room felt like home. He went on to say:
“Cranbrook and Kimberley are starting to do an awful lot of things together. I think we have figured out after a long period of time that the communities, being in close proximity like this — there isn’t anywhere else like this really in the province, certainly not in rural BC where this is the case. And I think if you look at the assets we have, the amenities we have, when we put them together we are much stronger than each of us as individuals.”
He added that him and Mayor Lee Pratt have been working hard, when they have opportunities to do so, to jump on chances to work together, and the 55+ Games are the perfect way to pool the collective assets of both communities together.
“It’s one of the reasons why we’re able to actually pull these games,” he said. “I’m not sure that either of the communities individually could do that.”
Sandy Zeznik, one of the co-presidents alongside Jaret Thompson, said that she is excited for the games as it will be a chance for people from around BC to come and see the East Kootenays, an area of the province her and Thompson agreed is not as often visited as some of the others.
“We hope we’re going to showcase an area that lots of people in British Columbia don’t even really know about,” Zeznik said. “They haven’t visited. And we have a gorgeous area here and we hope there will be, well we know there will be economic good come there, but we also hope that it will come the next year and the next year and the next year as people return.”
Thompson expanded on the economic impact of the games, adding, “we expect about 2,700 participants and their spouses and family that travel with them and it’s a big economic impact to the region. Typically these games bring about a $3 million draw to the area so it’s a big thing.”
In order to support the games and the huge influx of participants and their families, a massive force of volunteers is needed. The co-presidents said that registration is now open and they hope to recruit around 1,200 volunteers to do a wide range of tasks.
“When I saw the games in Vernon last year,” said Thompson, “it was really neat to see all the people participating, the fun they were having and the fitness level. it was just great, the whole energy around it was really something. So I think anybody who volunteers will come away with feeling pretty good about their help with it.”
The now-open office will serve as a meeting place and base of operations for the 1,200 volunteers, and 100 directors and chairs that are in place. Moving forward, the Games will be in the Sam Steele Days Parade on Saturday June 16 in a dragon boat, and then there will be an official torch-lighting ceremony the following day.
There are over 23 sports represented at the games including: archery, badminton, bridge and cribbage, cycling, hockey, dragonboat, equestrian, five pin bowling, golf, slopitch, tennis and much more.