The Greater Vernon Ringette Association is one of six Vernon sports groups benefitting from B.C.’s Local Sport Relief Fund. (Morning Star file photo)

The Greater Vernon Ringette Association is one of six Vernon sports groups benefitting from B.C.’s Local Sport Relief Fund. (Morning Star file photo)

Relief funds keep Okanagan in the game

Clubs at risk of closure due to inability to offer programs and fundraise

The provincial government has kicked in some support to keep sports groups at play following a shutout year.

Fifty community sport organizations in the Interior region are benefiting from B.C.’s $1.5-million Local Sport Relief Fund.

Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee recognizes the important role local sport organizations play across the Okanagan.

”This funding will be instrumental in helping them regain financial footing so they can continue to offer opportunities for physical activity, fun and teamwork for everyone,” she said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put financial pressure on many local sports clubs throughout British Columbia that have had limited ability to offer programming and hold fundraisers to cover expenses.

Without financial support, these clubs are at risk of closure, leaving communities without local access to sport.

In total, 288 organizations will receive a boost from the Local Sport Relief Fund.

“Coaches, volunteers and board members have worked around the clock to ensure people can keep active and gain the physical and mental benefits of sport during the pandemic,” Tourism Minister Melanie Mark said.

“We heard their challenges to meet financial pressures with current health orders in place and are proud to provide this additional support so our communities can continue to offer sport in a safe way.”

Rural, remote and under-represented populations, such as Indigenous Peoples, girls and women, low-income, newcomers and persons with disabilities, are disproportionally impacted by limited physical activities during the pandemic. Organizations that offer targeted programming are among those supported by the relief fund.

“Local sport programming delivers profound benefits to the health and well-being of communities and individuals across our province” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO, viaSport. “Delivering these community benefits are local sport organizations that have been hit hard during this time. This funding provides much-needed financial relief to sustain these organizations during these challenging times and enable these valuable services to continue.”

The monies will help cover administration and operational costs for local sports organizations dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Insurance, rent, storage costs, essential equipment and more are among eligible expenses to be covered by the relief fund.

Given the significant number of applications received for the initial Local Sport Relief Fund, the ministry is considering other opportunities to support the sport sector.

“The pandemic has led to some significant financial challenges,” said Theresa Cooper, executive director, Okanagan Gymnastics Centre. “With this funding grant from the Province of B.C., we will be able to weather the storm and ensure that we can continue to offer safe programming, both now and into the future.”

Programs in the Okanagan receiving funds include:

Vernon

  • Greater Vernon Ringette Association
  • North Valley Gymnastics Society
  • Silver Star Freestyle Ski Club
  • Vernon Figure Skating Club
  • Vernon Rowing and Dragon Boat Club
  • Vernon Ski Club

Lake Country

  • Winfield Figure Skating Club

Kelowna

  • Two X Elle Cycling Association
  • Okanagan Athletics Club Society
  • Okanagan Gymnastics Centre Society
  • Okanagan Mainline Football Society
  • Okanagan Mission Hall Association
  • Kelowna Curling Club
  • Kelowna Lawn Bowling Club
  • Kelowna Minor Hockey Association
  • Kelowna Ski Club
  • Kelowna Speed Skating Club
  • Kelowna United Football Club
  • Kelowna College Basketball Society

West Kelowna

  • Lakeview Heights Tennis Club
  • West Kelowna Minor Baseball Association

Penticton

  • Glengarry Figure Skating Club
  • Penticton BMX Society
  • Penticton Curling Club
  • Penticton Dragon Boat Festival Society
  • Penticton Lawn Bowling Club
  • Penticton Minor Fastpitch Softball Association
  • Pinnacles Football Club Association

Salmon Arm

  • Salmon Arm Curling Club
  • Salmon Arm Waves Masters Swimming Club
  • Shuswap Dragon Boat Society

READ MORE: Vernon pro to join elite women’s golf coaching program

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