Summerland prepares for 2014 Seniors Games

Summerland and Penticton will work together to host the B.C. Seniors Games in 2014.

Mayor Janice Perrino said the games, which bring around 2,000 participants, would be a benefit to the community, but Summerland alone is not able to host the event.

“Together we can host the games,” she said. “When we work together, we’ll all benefit.”

Summerland has numerous playing fields and at the beginning of June, was able to host the 74-team slo-pitch tournament during the Summerland Action Festival.

The community, with around 11,000 people, is too small to host the entire games, she said.

Penticton, with more than 30,000 people, is also too small to singlehandedly host the games.

Each year in late summer or early fall, the games are held in a different Okanagan community.

Events for the games include badminton, golf, hockey, slo-pitch baseball and swimming as well as events such as bridge, whist and one-act plays.

The games only last for around one week, but Perrino said the benefits will last much longer.

“It helps to let people know we’re here,” she said. “Once they come once, they’ll come back,” she said.

Communities have worked together in the past to host the games.

This year, the games will be held in Castlegar, Nelson and Trail Aug. 16 to 20.

Dale MacDonald, parks and recreation director for the municipality, said Summerland would host curling and slo-pitch during the games.

The games would be held in mid-September and as a result, the ice at the curling rink would be put in a little earlier than usual.

Lisa Jaager, manager of the Summerland Chamber of Economic Development and Tourism, said Summerland would host one-quarter of the games and take care of one-quarter of the accommodations.

The community would also be responsible for one-quarter of the costs, or $15,000 in cash and $13,750 contributed as in-kind donations.

Jaager said the event could lead the way for future tournament hosting between the two communities.

“We’re looking at this as a template for future sports tourism,” she said. “Right now, sports tourism is under-utilized.”