A handful of North Okanagan sports organizations are among 43 in the Thompson-Okanagan region receiving funding to help them recover from the pandemic and welcome a safe return to play.
The Local Sport Relief Fund, announced Tuesday, July 27, provides grants of up to $7,500 to non-profit sports organizations to assist with expenses such as insurance, administrative costs, rent, storage costs and equipment essential to providing sports programs. There are more than 4,100 local sports organizations in B.C., many of which have faced financial challenges due to the absence of registration fees, event revenues and sponsorships because of the COVID-19 limits on gatherings to keep people safe.
Receiving undisclosed grant amounts are the Armstrong/Enderby Skating Club, Vernon Amateur Athletics Association, Vernon BMX Association, Vernon Curling and Athletic Club, Vernon Lawn Bowling Club, Vernon Pickleball Association and Vernon Vortex Speedskating Club.
“This funding is welcomed support that will help us build back the financial stability we lost during the pandemic,” said Dave Merklinger, manager, Vernon Curling and Athletic Club. “We are thrilled to be able to have our sport programming back up and running for the public and value this opportunity to serve our community once again.”
Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sidhu said her government knows the important role kids’ sports play in their development.
“Sport organizations are a vital hub for social connection, physical activity and fun,” said Sidhu. “I’m glad to see support for local organizations so people can return to the activities that keep them healthy and happy in Vernon and throughout B.C.”
Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Melanie Mark praised the roles volunteers play as B.C. makes it way through Step 3 of the province’s restart plan.
“Volunteers have done an amazing job adapting to the pandemic, she said. “Our government is proud to support these community-based sports organizations as they work to get people back in the game.”s.”
The province is focused on enhancing opportunities for a more inclusive, diverse and affordable future for sport. Local Sport Relief Fund grants awarded in both rounds prioritized organizations serving under-represented populations, including girls and women, persons with disabilities, underprivileged youth, racially diverse and LGBTQI2S communities.
Mark also announced Tuesday that 72 sports teams and leagues – including the Vernon Vipers and the B.C. Hockey League – will receive a total of $11 million in one-time grants from the Amateur Sports League Fund to help B.C.-based and/or B.C.-owned non-profit and for-profit amateur leagues recover from the financial losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grants will support amateur athletes and ensure the jobs of people who work for the leagues and teams are protected.