The Chilliwack Chiefs and Coquitlam Express will finally play games in early April as the BCHL squeezes in a shortened 20 game season. Just-announced provincial funding may help the junior A league offset financial losses caused by the COVID pandemic. (Darren Francis photo)

The Chilliwack Chiefs and Coquitlam Express will finally play games in early April as the BCHL squeezes in a shortened 20 game season. Just-announced provincial funding may help the junior A league offset financial losses caused by the COVID pandemic. (Darren Francis photo)

Province provides relief funding for amateur sport

The government is directing $15 million to teams/leagues impacted by the COVID pandemic

The provincial government is stepping up with a big funding promise for amateur leagues and teams hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the WHL and BCHL aren’t directly referenced in the news release announcing the $15 million relief fund, the money “will help amateur sports leagues and teams with operational costs, such as salaries, administrative costs, personal protective equipment, and the development of COVID-19 safety plans to ensure the safety of athletes and staff.”

Both leagues would fit that criteria.

The fund will be administered by viaSport and according to the release, focus on leagues and teams owned and operated in BC that do not pay athletes, and can demonstrate at least a 30 per cent loss in revenue due to the pandemic.

College/university teams aren’t eligible.

RELATED: BCHL requests financial aid from government as COVID-19 wreaks financial havoc

RELATED: B.C. government approves plan in principle to allow WHL to resume in the province

“We have heard from hockey leagues about the pandemic being a tough opponent,” said BC Premier John Horgan. “This new relief fund will help them and other amateur leagues to get through these challenging times. We want sports fans to be able once again to cheer for their favourite teams on the diamond, at the local arena and on the pitch once the pandemic is over.”

“B.C.-based amateur sport organizations play a vital role in developing athletes who represent B.C. in provincial, national and international competition,” added Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “Some of these athletes have spent their whole lives working to get to this stage. This investment is another important measure our government is taking, so amateur athletes can continue to follow their dreams.”

The Local Sport Relief Fund is also helping, with $1.5 million in provincial and federal money going to 288 local sport organizations throughout BC. After seeing high demand for the first round of funding, a second round was launched earlier in March and applications are being accepted until April 30 at viasport.ca

“During the pandemic, the absence of sport has had a profound impact on participants, athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers, organizations and communities,” said viaSport CEO Charlene Krepiakevich. “This funding will help fill the gap and support B.C.-based amateur sports leagues and teams that have been ineligible for provincial sport relief funding to date and are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.”


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eric.welsh@theprogress.com

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