City bids on Senior Games

Vernon is preparing to jump hurdles to bolster tourism and the economy

Vernon is preparing to jump hurdles to bolster tourism and the economy.

City council voted unanimously Monday to proceed with a bid for the 2017 55-Plus B.C. Games, formerly known as the B.C. Seniors Games.

“It’s a huge economic impact on the community when people are staying in hotels, eating out and travelling around,” said Mayor Akbal Mund, who was chairperson of the Greater Vernon B.C. Winter Games in 2012.

The multi-sport event could bring in up to 4,000 athletes, friends and family to the area with a projected economic impact of approximately $2.1 million.

“The potential economic impact of the 55-Plus B.C. Games is significantly higher than hosting other B.C. Games because participants are responsible for their own accommodations, meals and transportation,” said Doug  Ross, recreation manager.

Vernon hosted the first B.C. Seniors Games in 1988 but has been unable to do so since because of the lack of a certified running track.

A new track next to Okanagan College is expected to open in July and 2017 would be the 30th anniversary of the 55-Plus B.C. Games.

“It will be a great opportunity to showcase our facilities,” said Coun. Juliette Cunningham.

As part of the bid process, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee and the City of Armstrong will be formally asked to participate with resources and facilities.

“I’m hoping they will think it’s a good idea,” said Cunningham, who is GVAC chairperson.

“The spin-off is for the whole area and not just Vernon.”

Armstrong has previously indicated support.

While the city’s focus is hosting the 2017 Games, bids will also be submitted for 2018 and 2019.