Community sports in B.C. to get $1.5M lifeline

With doubt still surrounding the re-opening of youth sports this fall, the B.C. government has offered $1.5 million to help community clubs stay afloat.

The province has more than 4,100 local sports organizations and the pandemic has led to many of them facing financial challenges due to the absence of registration fees, event revenues and sponsorships.

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However, most of those organizations still have fixed costs, such as rent and staffing to deal with.

"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."

Without support for local organizations that allows them to stay established in their communities, people would have reduced access to sport.

This access, according to the government, could take up to two years to rebuild. Rural and remote communities, as well as 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.

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

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