Province boosts funding for community sport groups

Funding will help local organizations pay their bills, says tourism, arts and culture minister

An increase in financial support for community sport organizations from the provincial government will benefit children, families and athletes, according to BC Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

COVID-19 has led to financial challenges for many of BC’s 4,100 local sports organizations. The province is providing $1.5 million to help with fixed costs during the pandemic due to the absence of registration fees, event revenues and sponsorships.

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"We want people of all ages, backgrounds and levels of ability to be able to gain the physical and mental benefits sport offers," stated tourism, arts and culture minister Lisa Beare. "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."

Without support that allows organizations to stay established in their communities, people would have reduced access to sport, according to the ministry. Rural and remote communities, and underrepresented populations, such as Indigenous peoples, girls and women, low-income individuals, persons with disabilities and newcomers, are disproportionately affected by a reduction in physical activity opportunities as a result of COVID-19, stated the ministry in the release.

"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," stated viaSport CEO Charlene Krepiakevich. "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."

Canadian Heritage is also investing $3.4 million in sports organizations in BC, according to the release. The funding is part of the $72-million COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations and will benefit BC’s provincial, disability and multisport organizations. Funding will be distributed through viaSport to ensure support is provided across the sport sector.

As of July 27, 54 sport-specific plans to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had been completed by provincial sport organizations; 50 are summer and fall sports. Organizations are ready to welcome back more than 500,000 British Columbians in their return to sport.

The province has extended legal protection to amateur sport organizations, many of which are run by volunteers, so they cannot be held liable for damages caused by exposure to COVID-19.

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