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Excitement in the air as Salmon Arm makes plans to host 2024 55+ BC Games

Hundreds of volunteers, hotel beds, RV sites and more needed for popular event
Dragon boating is one of a variety of sports that can be part of the 55+ BC Games being hosted by Salmon Arm in September 2024. (Black Press file photo)

Debbie Cannon bubbles with excitement when she speaks about Salmon Arm’s successful bid for the 2024 55+ BC Games.

“We’re really pumped; everyone is so supportive and excited,” she said enthusiastically, the day after learning of the city’s success.

Cannon, a city councillor, was one of four people on the bid committee. Other members were Darby Boyd, general manager of the Shuswap Recreation Society; Caitlin Thompson, events coordinator with Salmon Arm Economic Development and Erin Jackson, the city’s chief administrative officer.

Cannon said Salmon Arm applied for either the 2024, 2025 or 2026 Games, but made note 2024 was preferable. That was a strategic decision, she said. As the Games were on Vancouver Island this year and are in Abbotsford in the Lower Mainland in 2023, it would likely be the Interior’s turn in 2024.

Communities are given a set of dates in August and September to choose from. Salmon Arm chose September in order to avoid a conflict with the Roots & Blues Festival.

The Games will be held from Sept. 10 to 14, 2024.

Cannon said the committee received a letter of support from Fall Fair organizers, so if there are any date conflicts she expects they would be able to do some shuffling.

Read more: Medals from BC and Canada 55+ Games make their way to the Shuswap

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Asked about Salmon Arm’s lack of a running track, she said there are many sports to choose from and each town chooses between 20 and 30. The committee was told it could leave track and field out of its application. Cannon said she inquired whether Salmon Arm could feature events like discus, shot-put and javelin without the track component and was told no.

Off the top of her head, she listed what could be offered in Salmon – not necessarily a complete list. Triathlon, archery, badminton, bridge, cribbage, whist, cycling, mountain biking, darts, dragon boating, equestrian events, 5-pin bowling, golf, hockey, horseshoes, lawn bowling, ice curling, pickle ball, soccer and swimming. While some people had questions about the pool, Games officials approved the facility.

Cannon said it’s possible to pull out sports offered in the bid application and add others if needed.

Although the committee hasn’t fully discussed it yet, Cannon said basketball isn’t on the list. As Salmon Arm has been such a successful basketball town over the years, particularly women’s basketball, she has been wondering if it could be offered as a demonstration sport in 2024. That’s one option for introducing a sport that isn’t on the list. It remains to be seen what will happen with that.

Salmon Arm has already budgeted funds for the Games, plus Cannon said there may be MRDT or Municipal and Regional District Tax (hotel tax) funds available as they’re aimed at shoulder seasons. Also, there is a Legacy Fund which most communities are left with after hosting.

The bid committee will be meeting with 55+ BC Games officials to set up an organizing committee. One of the first orders of business will be recruiting volunteers, she said. Other host communities have needed between 1,000 and 1,500.

Also required are a minimum of 1,750 beds and 400 RV sites within a 40-kilometre radius.

“We’ve also got support from Sicamous. We’re planning to use their rink as well as Enderby’s.”

Cannon said when Vernon hosted the Games in 2017, an estimated $3.3 million was injected into the host community and surrounding areas.

“It’s a pretty big boost for the community.”
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Martha Wickett

About the Author: Martha Wickett

came to Salmon Arm in May of 2004 to work at the Observer. I was looking for a change from the hustle and bustle of the Lower Mainland, where I had spent more than a decade working in community newspapers.
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