Sports organizations on Vancouver Island are soon to be given a financial boost after the Province announces $1.5 million in funding through the Local Sport Relief Fund.
In a release on Thursday, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport says 64 community sports organizations up and down the Island will benefit. The Local Sport Relief Fund will support a total of 288 sports organizations across B.C.
Local sports organizations include community-based baseball and soccer teams, gymnastics and lacrosse. One of the organizations to benefit on the Island is the Nanaimo Curling Club.
“Nanaimo Curling Club is very grateful for this much-needed support from the Province of B.C.,” said Brian McRory, president of the club. “This funding will help us stay afloat financially and assist with putting the necessary health and safety measures in place so our athletes and staff can continue to participate in curling activities.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has put financial pressure on many local sports clubs throughout the province that have had limited ability to offer programming and fundraise to cover expenses, prompting the possibility of closure, says the Ministry.
The Local Sport Relief Fund covers administration and operational costs for local sports organizations dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible expenses include insurance, administrative costs, rent, storage costs, equipment essential to providing sports programs and COVID-19 related supplies, such as cleaning products, signage and personal protective equipment.
“Coaches, volunteers and board members have worked around the clock to ensure people can keep active and gain the physical and mental benefits of sport during the pandemic,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We heard their challenges to meet financial pressures with current health orders in place and are proud to provide this additional support so our communities can continue to offer sport in a safe way.”
MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill Grace Lore says sports are not only essential for everyone’s physical and mental well-being, they also help build community and connection.
“The pandemic has changed how we stay active, and these shifts have been hard on many local sport organizations. This funding will help clubs regain financial footing so they will be able to continue to bring people together and offer healthy and fun activities for everyone,” said Lore.
The Province says rural and remote communities, as well as under-represented populations, such as Indigenous peoples, girls and women, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities and newcomers, are disproportionally impacted by limited physical activities during the pandemic, and says The Local Sport Relief Fund helps ensure sports opportunities are available to these groups.
As of September 2020, the Province says $11 million has been given to provincial, disability and multi-sport organizations through viaSport.
More help could be on the way. Given the significant number of applications received for the initial Local Sport Relief Fund, the ministry is considering other opportunities to support the sport sector.