Bill Reid has plenty of experience with big events.
He arrived in Nelson not long before the city hosted the 1989 BC Winter Games and also helped organize them in Fort St. John a few years earlier.
He was in charge of facilities for the BC Festival of the Arts when it came to Nelson in 2000, and has been president of the Nelson Music Festival Association, which hosts the annual Kootenay Festival of the Arts.
But now, he’s taking on a much bigger role as co-chair of this summer’s BC Seniors Games, being held jointly by Nelson, Castlegar, and Trail.
“I’ve usually been involved as a chair or director,” he says. “This is a little different. It’s a higher level position for me.”
Reid retired three years ago as superintendent of the Kootenay Lake school district and also spent 13 years as principal of L.V. Rogers.
Last year the mayor tapped him to be Nelson’s lead on the seniors games. “I was honoured he would think of asking me,” Reid says. “Most of my work has been with smaller events, but I guess he knew the sort of skill set I have.”
He was comfortable taking it on knowing he would be part of a team — Castlegar’s Pat Metge and Trail’s Keith Smyth are his counterparts.
Early on, the three met every few weeks, and as the workload increased, more people were added. There’s an office manager in Castlegar along with some summer students, plus directors and volunteers.
“What I’m really grateful for is the people that have stepped up to be part of the team,” Reid says. “We’ve got a fabulous team and lots of support from our mayor and council. It’s all been pretty positive.”
He is even more impressed with the regional cooperation.
“I’ve been around long enough to see the spitting matches that can happen between close communities. These games are so wonderful in that the three communities are honestly working together.”
Reid says they’ve worked hard to ensure each city gets its share of events.
“There are actually fewer people competing in Castlegar, but that’s because Castlegar is going to host the registration, banquet, and dance,” he says. “Those sort of things require quite a lot of volunteer support. We pay attention to that. In some ways for me, it was like building a school timetable and I’ve done those forever.”
In Nelson, he figures the dragonboat races will draw the biggest crowds, “simply because there’s going to be over 400 competitors and a lot of boats on the lake. Lakeside Park is a fabulous venue. It’s our pride and joy.”
Both arenas will also be used for hockey, and he expects there will also be interest in the road biking races.
Although they are only halfway to their goal of 1,500 volunteers, Reid expects once summer schedules firm up, many more people will come on board. Some jobs will only require single day commitments.
Despite being at the top of the hierarchy, Reid is among those working for free.
“There’s zero remuneration. It’s strictly volunteer. But I feel there’s a need for everyone to step up and give back to the community.”