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2011 Senior Games to face major challenge

2011 BC Senior Games president, Pat Metge, left, and vice president Keith Smythe speak about the Games' challenges.

By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily

There are major challenges facing the 2011 Senior Games before it comes to the West Kootenay region, but they are challenges that could see the region prosper, says the president of the Games committee.

Pat Metge said with the Waneta Dam expansion project in Trail, all of the construction projects in Castlegar and the stream of tourists that are regularly coming into Nelson, the Games next August will be hard pressed to accommodate 3,500 athletes.

The region is going to be very busy, he said, and people coming to the Games are going to go beyond the accommodations of the three cities.

“Accommodations up in the Slocan Valley, Nakusp way, there is a great opportunity here. These people will be in our communities for over four days,” he said. “The economic spin-off is great for our area.”

The Games does not provide accommodations, food or transportation to the events, said Games vice president Keith Smythe.

It will be the largest event the West Kootenay has seen, he said, with 28 events being split between three cities of Nelson, Trail and Castlegar.

With a headquarters now being set up in Castlegar, the Games committee has to raise $50,000 in corporate sponsorship to go with the core grant of $85,000 from the Senior Games Society, $112,000 from registration fees for 3,500 registrations, $55,000 in cash from each city and $55,000 of in kind donations.

“But we are very positive and we see it as a big challenge and an opportune time to bring our three areas together,” said Smythe.

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Not everyone is happy with the Games

There is some ill will towards the Games since the West Kootenay area of Creston and the Creston Valley was left out of the hosting process.

Area C director Larry Binks wondered why the town of Creston, the valley and that side of the mountain were ignored.

“If they come to me asking for money, I give this push back right away. I’m feeling a little out of sorts the way this is looking,” he said.

Creston and the valley were not part of the bid package, said Smythe.

“But, with regard to economic benefit, I think there will be total economic benefit to all areas of the West Kootenay because people will be traveling through your communities,” he said.

“And there is a limit with regard to accommodations so who knows where people will be staying,” added in Metge.

RDCK chair Gary Wright said so far the Creston area has not been asked to front any money for the Games.