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Kootenays Consider Bidding for 2004 Winter and Summer Games

Successful Games bid spin-offs

October 12, 2000

The Daily Bulletin (Kimberley)

Sandra Albers

Hard on the heels of the Sydney Olympics comes news that Kimberley will bid to become host city for the 2004 B.C. Winter Games. Then, just a few days after that announcement, we hear that Cranbrook is planning to bid on either the 2004 or 2006 B.C. Summer Games. 

I think both bids should be enthusiastically supported, for a number of  reasons. The timing couldn't be better for Kimberley, as this community makes the  transition from a mining town to a tourism and recreation-based economy. Having the B.C.Winter Games here, should our bid be successful, would be an excellent way to advertise the attractions of our expanding downhill ski resort, beautiful cross-country trails and other winter sports amenities.

Similarly, should Cranbrook host the provincial Summer Games at some point in the future, the spinoffs in terms of publicity for the natural and man-made wonders of the East Kootenays would be incalculable.  Such endeavours also have a way of pulling a community together.

The B.C. Winter Games bid package suggests that it takes from 3,000 to 4,000 volunteers to run the event successfully. Well, that's a lot of volunteers in a town of 7,000 or so souls, a proportion of which, of course, are children. Might as well say that just about every person in Kimberley will have to get involved in one way or another. But that's a good thing. It should also be remembered that Kimberley has already hosted a provincial winter games, two decades ago, in 1980. If we could do it then, we can certainly do it now. And hey, any community that can virtually double its population for the International Old-Time Accordion Championships, with few apparent problems, should find hosting a winter games a piece of cake.

Cranbrook also has experience as a host city, having hosted the 1986 version of the Summer Games provincially.

The winter games bid package further indicates that some 175 classrooms would be needed to billet 18 persons per room. Sporting facilities on the required list include four arenas, one curling rink, a downhill ski facility, a cross-country and biathlon ski area, bowling lanes, 10 gyms and a swimming pool. Another reason to support the bid -- Kimberley obviously already has most of those venues, with the glaring exception of the swimming pool.  Maybe successfully bidding on these Games would force our fair community into pushing ahead quickly on the much-needed indoor pool.

It should also be noted that facilities in neighboring communities can be used if that community is less than one hour away. And that leads me to another good reason -- if either or both communities are chosen as hosts, Cranbrook and Kimberley will have no choice but to cooperate with one another. The Kimberley committee is already planning to appeal to Cranbrook City Council for support.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a successful Games bid were to help put an end to the sometimes petty rivalries between the two communities.  If Kimberley should host the 2004 B.C. Winter Games, I would hope Cranbrook residents would be happy for us. If Cranbrook should host the province's Summer Games the same year, or perhaps two years later, I would fully expect Kimberley residents to cheer them on. I hope that's not wishful thinking!

Finally, anything that promotes physical fitness is surely a good thing. Much was made in the aftermath of the Sydney Olympics of Canada's relatively poor medal showing, and that Canada either doesn't pour enough money into sports in general, or that it spreads it around to everybody instead of targeting the elite athletes that stand a chance of winning gold, silver or bronze on the world stage. Canada is, as usual, accused of being just too darn nice. Well, I happen to like Canada's approach. Medals aren't everything, and just getting there (whether to the Olympics or to the B.C. Games) is cause to celebrate.

So cross your fingers and let the Games begin, East Kootenay style.

Sandra Albers is a Kimberley columnist

Charles La Vertu, Communications Branch

Ministry of Small Business, Tourism and Culture

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2000 BC Games Society