BC Games torch at the closing ceremonies in Duncan on July 22, 2018 (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

BC Games torch at the closing ceremonies in Duncan on July 22, 2018 (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)

2020 hosts study BC Games in action

Maple Ridge will be site of next Summer Games

Maple Ridge is the next host of the BC Summer Games in 2020, and a delegation from city hall left the 2018 BC Summer Games in Cowichan confident about the job the next hosts will do.

City recreation coordinator health and wellness Dave Speers, recreation manager Christa Balatti and parks manager Valoree Richmond attended the Games on Vancouver Island to see how the cities involved, with the help of 3,000 volunteers, hosted the event from July 19-22.

The Games involved 2,400 athletes, 452 coaches, 264 officials and thousands of parents and sports fans. The athletes are all aged 13-15, and for them the Games is a first step toward national and even international competition.

It was a long look at the Games in action, before Maple Ridge begins organizing its own 2020 Games in earnest. Speers explained the next steps will be for the new city council, elected in October 2018, to oversee a nomination process to select a 2020 Maple Ridge Summer Games president, and then recruit directors for various areas of oversight, including food, transportation and communications. All will be volunteers.

On Vancouver Island, the Maple Ridge delegates took pictures, made mental notes, and spent a fruitful pre-Games practice day talking to many of the Games officials and organizers about their jobs.

Speers insight was it is such a massive undertaking, that organizing the Summer Games has to be broken down to many smaller sporting events.

“You have to think of every Games site as a mini tournament, each with its own site director and support people.”

He said provincial sports bodies and local clubs will all have a role to play, whether it is the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club at Whonnock Lake, or Golden Ears Athletics helping to put on the track and field events. They will work within a template provided by the Games Society.

“Club will have a role for sure. We’re going to rely on the experience and knowledge of their coaches,” said Speers.

The Cowichan Games were much different than Maple Ridge’s Games will be, in that many smaller municipalities were involved. There were venues in Nanaimo and Shawnigan Lake – which are about an hour’s drive apart – and in virtually every community in between.

However, most of the 2020 Games will be situated right in Maple Ridge, with the exceptions of towed sports (water skiing) at Abbotsford’s Albert Dyck Park, sailing at Rocky Point in Port Moody and rowing at Bedford Landing in Langley. The venues are still subject to change.

Speers said it will be a uniquely Maple Ridge event.

“Each Games is a totally unique experience – the city is hosting, and it’s their Games,” said Speers. “It’s exciting – you could see the energy it brings to a community.”

Maple Ridge last hosted a BC Games in 1998, and Speers said a mostly new generation of volunteers, 2,500 at a minimum, will be recruited. With the need to transport thousands of athletes from the schools where they sleep to venues for meals and competition, running a multi-sport event is a “huge undertaking.”

But he said the experience it gives to athletes, and the showcase it provides for Maple Ridge, makes it worthwhile.

“Sports brings people together.”

Maple Ridge’s venues will be in great shape, he said, with new fields already coming on stream. There will be hubs including Telosky Stadium, Maple Ridge secondary for athletics, Hammond Stadium for baseball and Albion Sports Complex for softball

After seeing the Cowichan Games, Speers main takeaway: “It’s going to be a ton of fun, and we’re going to a great job as a community of hosting.”