Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge consider joint Summer Games bid

Two cities could co-host B.C. event in 2020 or in 2022

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have been asked to get in the game.

A joint bid proposal for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to host the B.C. Summer Games in 2020 or 2022 went before both city councils on Tuesday night.

Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services is recommending the two cities share in the approximate $95,000 cost of hosting the games.

Pitt Meadows Mayor John Becker said he would not be averse to partnering with Maple Ridge in the venture, even though the two cities are in the middle of divorcing from their 20-year partnership in parks and recreation.

Maple Ridge is also seeking public support to spend $110 million on new recreation facilities.

“The term ‘friends with benefits’ leaps to mind,” Becker said. “It shows the legacy of cooperation that will be left behind.”

Pitt Meadows remains in the middle of rebuilding its parks and recreation department, and would not likely be able to function as a partner until the latter year, Becker added.

“It’s an exciting opportunity for us to host,” said Pitt Meadow Coun. David Murray, who is a member of the parks commission.

He said the last time the two communities hosted the B.C. Games was in 1998, and the financial legacy funding was used to build the running track at Maple Ridge secondary, which is used by the most local track athletes in the district.

Murray suggested if Pitt Meadows could receive the legacy, the city could also construct a track, so that Pitt’s high school athletes do not have to travel to MRSS to train.

The legacy varies in size. Nanaimo received $76,000 for the last games in 2014 – they are held every two years. The 2012 Surrey B.C. Games left a legacy of $140,000.

Director of recreation for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, Wendy McCormick said the event would require some 3,500 volunteers to run. The games would rely on the same volunteers who are already active in local sports organizations, as well as those who help run festivals and other community events in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

“Our community is a very volunteer-driven community,” she said.

The games bring a lot of visitors. Abbotsford will host the 2016 B.C. Games from July 21-24, and organizers anticipate the arrival of 2,448 registered athletes, 473 coaches and 260 officials coming to the city.

Nanaimo reported an estimated $2 million spent there during the 2014 Games, with $1.1 million in spending by participants, including hotels, meals and souvenirs.

McCormick said there are also dividends paid in community spirit.

“It’s a community building process – the community all comes together and works to put the Games on,” she said.

McCormick said the 2022 Games might be an opportunity for Maple Ridge to showcase a new pool facility, which is under council consideration. If it is not built by that time, she said the swimming events could be held at the Leisure Centre pool, and the synchronized swimming would go to a different facility nearby.

Other events include basketball, rugby and soccer.

McCormick said the cities have excellent fields for sporting events, and are well situated to attract a large number of athletes, making for a strong bid.

“It will depend who [what cities] we’re up against for the bid.”

A recommendation from parks and recreation asked both councils to direct staff to prepare the bid, and approve a one-time commitment of $45,000 in cash and a minimum of $50,000 of in-kind support, namely in staff resources and the use of municipal facilities required to host the games. The amount would be shared proportionately or according to agreement.

The B.C. Games Society provides the host community with $600,000 to operate the games, which includes hiring a full-time operations manager for nine months.

The bid proposal is also subject to approval by the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District, because athletes are typically billeted in gymnasiums and classrooms.

The bids must be submitted by Sept. 10, and the successful bidder announced in late fall.