Vice president Tom Bowen and president Mike Keenan wave the BC Games flag at the closing ceremonies of the 2020 BC Winter Games in Fort St. John. (Contributed)

Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games organizers disappointed but proud

Should be extra-prepared for the 2024 Summer Games once it comes

Hopes were high for Mike Keenan and Tom Bowen when they were passed the BC Games flag at the closing ceremony of this February’s Winter Games in Fort St. John.

The president and vice-president of Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games had travelled up north with their directors and spent four days being greatly inspired by their hosts and the athletes who were competing.

Although a Golden Ears-sized mountain of work lay ahead of them, everyone was confident in their ability to rally the communities of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to put on a spectacular event.

“We all came back with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of real energy to come back here and put on a great games,” said Bowen.

“But it was not to be.”

Within the last two weeks, a domino-like cancellation of sporting and cultural gatherings began due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and on March 25, what seemed like the inevitable happened to the Maple Ridge event many locals were looking forward to.

READ MORE: 2020 B.C. Summer Games cancelled due to COVID-19

“Keeping British Columbians safe and healthy is our top priority. Through conversations with leadership at the BC Games Society, it became clear that there was no viable path forward to host the Games this year and that they must now be cancelled,” Tourism Minister Lisa Beare said.

Bowen said the announcement, while predictable, came as a disappointment to the organizers, who were keen to impress.

“We have put a lot of work into it,” he said.

“A lot of man hours. We’ve run into some challenges but we were dealing with them as they came and getting things done. Mike and I were forging ahead with the crew we had, and we were very proud of all the efforts.

Keenan agreed, saying the team can still hold their head high, and arguing the efforts were not completely in vain.

“We put the hours in voluntarily and we all had the same goal in mind,” he said.

“Certainly, we’re fallen short of that [goal] but it was for all the right reasons, so nobody has any regrets in terms of the amount of time that we’ve invested.

“It was time well spent, and for those that step forward in 2024 and want to continue, they now have the experience of having been down this road somewhat, so that’s kind of a positive spin on all of this.”

With the 2022 BC Summer Games already being hosted by Prince George, the City of Maple Ridge was given the opportunity to host the 2024 Summer Games, and voted unanimously to do so at a March 24 council meeting.

“Our community will be ready to welcome the athletes, coaches and their families for an outstanding Summer Games competition,” Maple Ridge Mayor Mike Morden said.

For many athletes, that will mean a chance to compete at the highest level in front of their own community, will no longer be an option.

“As a former softball coach, I can attest to that,” Bowen said, ” I saw kids who took it to [the B.C. Summer Games] and that was the high level for them, so it’s sad to see.”

Keenan concurred.

“It’s nice to be home and have your family and friends watching you, and this is a starting point or a spring board for those competitive athletes that would like to make their way through to Western Canada games, a national stage or, for some an international one.”

A nugget of hope remains for some of the competitors who want to ensure their training doesn’t go to waste.

“We’re currently in discussions with all our provincial sport organizations (PSOs) to look at what the future can hold,” said B.C. Games president, Alison Noble.

“While we can’t duplicate the games, we can work with our PSOs to see if there are some creative alternatives where kids can have that opportunity in a future year.

“For young B.C. athletes, this is the first step in that multi-sport games opportunity where they have that chance to compete with others across the province and travel as a team, and be part of a team throughout the games weekend, which is continued on through their sports career.

“It’s an important stepping stone, and we’re very proud to hold that place in the sport development spectrum.”

She added the board in charge of this summer’s games were on the right track for a memorable event.

“They were doing an excellent job,” Noble said.

“By all accounts it was looking like [it would have been] a very successful games based on the work that had been done to date.”

BC Games

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here


Mike Keenan, president of the Maple Ridge 2020 BC Summer Games, and vice-president Tom Bowen put up one of two event flags outside Maple Ridge city hall last summer as Mayor Mike Morden looks on. (Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS)

Just Posted

Slight decrease in homelessness in Maple Ridge

2020 Homeless Count finds 114 people without housing in the city

‘Frugal’ Maple Ridge lottery winner ponders purchases

Local lawn bowler plans to buy an SUV and some kitchen appliances with half-million dollar windfall

Premier in Maple Ridge for health care announcement

Urgent and primary care centre gets permanent home in Haney Place Mall

B.C. conservation officers free not-so-wily coyote

Poor pup was found with a glass jar stuck on its head in Maple Ridge

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Wrong-way driver triggers multi-vehicle collision on Highway 99 in South Surrey

Police received multiple reports of vehicle heading north in southbound lanes

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

National unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July, down from the 12.3 per cent recorded in June

Canada plans $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs on U.S. in aluminium dispute

The new Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement that replaced NAFTA went into force on July 1

Canada ‘profoundly concerned’ over China death sentence for citizen in drug case

Police later confiscated more than 120 kilograms of the drug from Xu Weihong’s home

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Most Read