The B.C. government has announced that it will be allocating $1.5 million to help fund local sport organizations across the province amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the B.C. government suggested the investment will be to help the province’s 4,100 sport organizations continue to provide programming moving forward.

Like many sectors, local sports programs have suffered as a result of the global health crisis due to the absence of registration fees, event revenues and sponsorships, the B.C. government said.

The province’s investment is geared towards helping organizations overcome those financial difficulties.

“We want people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability to be able to gain the physical and mental benefits sport offers,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “People in the sport community have felt the effects of COVID-19 profoundly. This funding will help local organizations pay their bills and keep our communities active.”

According to the provincial government, reduced access to sports programming could be difficult to rebound from, particularly in underrepresented populations – including rural and remote communities, Indigenous peoples, girls and women, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities and newcomers. The B.C. government feels that these underrepresented populations could be disproportionately affected by a reduction of opportunities as a result of the pandemic.

“Many amateur sport clubs in British Columbia are volunteer-based and rely on membership fees, events, tournaments and competitions to fund sport activities in their communities,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO, viaSport. “COVID-19 has especially impacted their ability to do that. This funding will help local clubs at the most financial risk to maintain operations until, and as, their communities and facilities can slowly reopen.”

A multitude of local sport organizations have already created restart plans amid COVID-19.

As of July 27, the government suggests that 54 different sports have created specific, detailed criteria in order to rebound and reopen activities. These sports include soccer, gymnastics, baseball and swimming, among others. Of the total sport-specific plans that have been outlined, 50 of them are linked to summer and fall sports.

The government says this means “more than 500,000 British Columbians are able to return to sport” in the coming months.

In addition to the investment by the B.C. g Government, Canadian Heritage will be offering $3.4 million towards sports organizations across British Columbia. A press release highlights that the Canadian Heritage investment will go towards B.C.’s provincial, disability and multi-sport organizations.

“This funding is great news for sports clubs in communities all over B.C.,” said Marty Hall, president and coach, Carnarvon Baseball. “Sport is good for everyone’s health and wellness and is a source of fun for so many children.”

The Canadian Heritage aid is part of the $72 million COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations, coming from the federal government.

Graham Cox