Nelson’s Jim Reimer poses after winning a medal at last year’s 55-Plus Games in Vernon. Nelson on its own is too small to host the Games, according to NDCC manager Marty Benson. Photo submitted

Nelson to pass on bidding for 55-plus Games

The city lacks the facilities and resources to host the Games on its own

It may not be the Olympics, but the 55-plus BC Games are too big for Nelson to host on its own.

Nelson and District Community Complex manager Marty Benson told the Recreation Commission on Tuesday that the bidding is open for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Games, but that Nelson lacks the facilities and resources to apply for the annual event.

Benson said Nelson is missing key venues, such as a track or the required amount of softball fields, that are needed for a host city. There is potential to make a bid work by partnering with Castlegar and Trail, but Benson said there’s little appetite for the Games right now in those cities. The three cities previously hosted the Games in 2011.

“Where Castlegar is right now with working through the (recreation centre) referendum as well as other projects they’ve got on the go, as well as being a host community in 2011, they don’t feel like they’ve got the means to take it on right now,” said Benson.

“In the back and forth communications I’ve had with Trail, they are interested in exploring it again at some point in the future but at this point not interested in the 2020 through 2022 Games.”


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The 55-plus BC Games have been held annually since 1993. Kimberley and Cranbrook are hosting this year’s Games in September, with more than 2,500 athletes expected to compete in 25 sports and activities over five days.

Although there are options within bidding for what events can take place, Benson said Nelson also suffers from a lack of amenities such a hotel space and RV sites.

“You need the ability to host them for their dinners and for their reception centres, so we’d have to require a lot of our outdoor facilities in order to reach that kind of capacity. That coupled with actually having to have the Games themselves take place in our outdoor parks would be very tight for space.”

Significant financial and manpower commitments are also needed to put on the Games.

According to the 55-plus Games website, Kimberley and Cranbrook are combining to spend $60,000 on the event as well as $51,000 of in-kind value in support of the host society. That’s on top of $85,000 in base funding provided by the province, as well as local corporate sponsorship. This fall’s Games will also use an estimated 1,500 volunteers.

All of that, according to Benson, is too big of an ask right now for Nelson.

“I think that’s part of the reason why we’d have to look at doing some type of a partnership with our surrounding neighbours in order to put something like that on. Because I don’t think any one of those centres has the capacity to do it on their own.”

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