Mission Raceway Park will host main Games events

Council approves spending up to $70,000 to rent large tent

Five key BC Winter Games events, including opening and closing ceremonies, will be held at Mission Raceway Park next year after Mission council approved spending up to $70,000 to rent a large 30 by 40 metre tent.

Despite the high price tag, most councillors agreed it would be the most convenient and provide the best experience for athletes and volunteers.

But before the district hands over any money, the BC Winter Games Committee will make a formal request for more funding from the provincial government and will submit a revised budget to the BC Games Society to include the cost of the tent.

This way, reasoned Mission’s chief administrative officer, Ken Bjorgaard, any leftover money will be allocated for the tent before it is earmarked for the legacy fund.

Coun. Nelson Tilbury, who worried about where the district would find that much money, was the only one opposed to the large tent rental.

“This was never in our budget,” he said.

Couns. Larry Nundal and Jeff Jewell were absent from last Wednesday’s.

The Games budget, excluding the tent, is $594,000. Local organizers approached the district in August originally requesting the purchase of a large tent for $170,000. Council quickly turned it down and asked for another report with other options.

After analyzing the logistics, Mission’s director of parks and recreation Maureen Sinclair suggested there may be problems with owning such a structure, like storage and contracting out skilled workers with the experience to install and dismantle it. Instead, she offered councillors two options, one to rent a large tent for $70,000, which would include equipment and set up costs, and the other to host the large events at numerous sites throughout the community while renting several small tents at a cost of $18,000, and a temporary floor to cover the south arena ice surface at the Leisure Centre for a cost not yet known.

Committee member Rod McCormick, who has worked on setting up the tents in Williams Lake during the 2002 Winter Games, explained the smaller tents are not ideal for special events because of numerous poles and are not snow or wind resistant.

About 1,900 athletes and between 5,000 to 7,000 spectators are expected to attend the opening and closing ceremonies. Other main Games events are social events for athletes on Saturday and Sunday and a thank you and volunteer recognition event. These events are expected to draw between 1,200 and 1,300 guests.

“I don’t think the little tents will save money and it won’t give a good ambience,” said Coun. Jenny Stevens. “We need to bite the bullet … [Renting a large tent] will give us results we can be proud of. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”