Maple Ridge getting into gear for 2020 Summer Games

New sports facilities will help

Soccer star Karina LeBlanc helped announce games coming to Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge is starting to gear up so it’s ready to welcome the rest of the province during the 2020 B.C. Summer Games.

But a lot of bureaucracy, meetings and talk is needed before the Games get going.

First, a committee must be formed.

The nomination committee won’t have anything to do with running the event. The committee’s just needed to create a board of directors that will actually organize and operate the 2020 B.C. Summer Games, from July 23 to July 26, 2020 in Maple Ridge.

City of Maple Ridge recreation staff visited the Cowichan 2018 B.C. Summer Games this summer to look at the venues and see how the Games are run.

“We feel very confident that the facilities we have in Maple Ridge are going to host a phenomenal Games,” recreation manager Christa Balatti told council at its Tuesday workshop.

She said Cowichan’s aquatic facility was similar to Maple Ridge’s Leisure Centre pool complex which is undergoing $12 million in renovations.

“So, I’m super excited to welcome athletes to our renovated facility when we re-open and host the aquatic events there,” Balatti said.

Some of the other venues already proposed is to have baseball at what will be a renovated Hammond Stadium and Larry Walker Field. Beach volleyball could take place at the Maple Ridge Equi Sports Centre, with basketball at Maple Ridge and Garibaldi secondary schools.

“We really have tremendous support from the school district,” Balatti said.

The schools will provide accommodation for the athletes and coaches.

She added that last September’s opening of the new artificial field at Golden Ears elementary, that’s marked for lacrosse, gives another option for that sport.

A volunteer rally will take place in the fall of 2019 with a torch lighting ceremony in March 2020.

Coun. Gordy Robson asked if Pitt Meadows facilities will be involved in the Summer Games, but Balatti said the only venue needed outside Maple Ridge will be the water sports in Langley.

“I would just like us to make sure we extend a hand,” Robson added.

“I think the relationship between us and Pitt Meadows, especially on the recreation front, is certainly going to change again and I’d certainly like to … involve them in any we can in the Games. I don’t whether we involve them in the opening ceremonies. I think we should be using this opportunity to rebuild relationships over recreation,” Robson said.

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows separated their merged recreation departments in 2016 after a report noted that it was costing Maple Ridge an extra $200,000 a year, while Pitt Meadows was saving a million dollars a year.

Balatti proposed at the workshop, that Katzie and Kwantlen First Nations, the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District, the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce, the Maple Ridge Downtown Business Improvement Association and both Rotary service clubs, and a member of the arts community, all be asked to join the committee, that will create a board of directors for the Games.

The goal of the committee is to get people who can invite leaders to serve “as part of a strong and capable board of directors for the 2020 B.C. Summer Games,” said a staff report.

Balatti said more than 3,500 athletes will be in Maple Ridge for the Games.

While here, they’ll be competing on the six all-weather sports fields that Maple Ridge will have by 2020. Two of those fields, Karina LeBlanc Field and Golden Ears elementary, opened this year and two more, at Thomas Haney secondary, will open by next summer.

“It’s going to be fun to do this project,” said Mayor Michael Morden.

In addition to the athletes, as many as 3,000 volunteers will be needed to help produce the event.

Hosting the event will be done on a shoestring, with the city chipping in $95,000 in cash and staff time for the event. The school district will help out by providing 12 school sites for competition venues, while sponsorship and donations will be needed for other costs.

Council OK’d sending the recommendations to a regular council meeting.

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