The BC Winter Games are returning to Greater Vernon.
It was announced Friday that the province’s largest winter sports event will be in the North Okanagan Feb. 24 to 27, 2022.
“The whole event will be wonderful,” said Juliette Cunningham, Greater Vernon Advisory Committee chairperson.
The community hosted the Winter Games in 2012 and in 1992.
More than 2,100 athletes, coaches, managers, and officials will participate in about 19 sports in 2022.
Venues will be located throughout Greater Vernon as well as at Silver Star, which will host alpine and freestyle skiing.
“We know Silver Star has the first-class facilities, equipment and personnel to host another memorable Games for all,” said Ken Derpak, Silver Star Mountain Resort managing director.
Athletes range in age from nine to 19 years and the average age of the athletes is 14.
“The kids come but the parents also come so there is an economic impact. It’s great for our community,” said Akbal Mund, Vernon mayor.
The economic impact of the Games on a community is about $1.6 million.
Mund was the president of the 2012 Winter Games committee and he knows first-hand the hard work needed behind the scenes to pull the event off.
“There’s five years to prepare and the real work will start in 2020,” he said.
Part of the organizing will include bringing together 2,000 volunteers.
“None of this happens without a tremendous group of volunteers,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
Among those looking forward to 2020 is Braeden Kersey, 15, who participated in the 2016 Summer Games in triathlon.
“I felt like I was part of a mini Olympics. The BC Games encouraged me to set goals,” he said.
Allan Louis, Okanagan Indian Band councillor, believes only good can come out of the Games.
“What takes away the lines of rich and poor, or colour is sport. You’re all part of a team and with the youth, it builds character, discipline and relationships,” he said.
“There’s no better way to find out about someone and where they come from than sport.”