Maple Ridge has been selected to host the 2020 B.C. Summer Games.
It was one of four locations announced Friday as host sites for the B.C. Summer or Winter Games.
Part of the announcement was the naming of a new artificial surface soccer field which opens this fall near Maple Ridge secondary, after Maple Ridge soccer star Karina LeBlanc, who used to attend the school.
“How often do I get a field named after me?” LeBlanc asked.
She told a crowd assembled at Maple Ridge Leisure Centre that she wants all the kids who play at the field to have fun and dream, “crazy, big dreams.”
The field is located in Merkley Park across from the school, where LeBlanc used to spend hours playing – and dreaming.
Nathan Stein, a Paralympic swimming medalist, was also at the announcement, in front of the pool where he began his sports career. Both competed at the B.C. Games as youths while living in Maple Ridge.
LeBlanc said having a field named after her means a lot.
“That field was just a field I went to when I was a kid who had a dream. I had this dream that I wanted to be an Olympic athlete. We used to go into that field – and just play – just play because I just wanted to be better every single day.”
Once, she got cut from a provincial team and as a result just increased her training time by 15 minutes a day. LeBlanc won a bronze medal with the Canadian women’s soccer team in the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
“I went from being cut to eventually winning an Olympic medal.”
Coun. Kiersten Duncan is confident Maple Ridge will have the needed facilities. Renovations to the two pools in the Maple Ridge Leisure Centre will take about 13 months, starting this September and are supposed to be done by 2019, in time for the Games.
A brand new pool costing $70 million is also part of the city’s rec infrastructure program, if approved by taxpayers, but likely won’t be built by then.
“We would not have received the bid if we were not prepared,” Duncan said.
“We have challenges like any community, but we’re definitely ready to host the Games. If we get one (a new pool) up and running in time, awesome, we’ll definitely have something.”
Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read said the city is proud to be a host, again. Maple Ridge hosted the B.C. Summer Games in 1983 and 1998 along with Pitt Meadows.
“A number of young men and women from Maple Ridge have used the B.C. Summer Games as a stepping stone in their journey from our local sports facilities onto the international stage,” she added. “Our local volunteers, our best community ambassadors, will ensure that the athletes who compete in Maple Ridge return home with fond memories of their time at the 2020 BC Summer Games.”
The Games create a legacy for each city, she added, either through new facilities or developing new athletes.
“We will be investing money to upgrade existing facilities and adding some new ones.”
Fort St. John, Greater Vernon and Prince George were also selected as summer or winter games hosts.
Local MLAs joined community leaders, volunteers and athletes in the host cities for the announcements this morning. In Maple Ridge, the announcement was made at the Leisure Centre, which is to be closed for 13 months for renovations, starting in the fall.
Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Doug Bing announced the decision on behalf of the Ministry, Sport and Cultural Development.
He said the economic impact to Maple Ridge will be about $2 million, which wouldn’t be possible without the 3,000 volunteers who will help make it happen.
“The B.C. Games provide a great opportunity for host communities to showcase their event-hosting expertise and community pride,” Peter Fassbender, minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development said in a release. “At the same time, the games bring social and economic benefit to a community and can help launch the sporting careers of B.C. athletes and coaches into the national and international arena. Congratulations to each of the host communities.”
The upcoming games will be held:
• Kamloops – 2018 B.C. Winter Games, Feb. 22-25;
• Cowichan – 2018 B.C. Summer Games, July 19-25;
• Fort St. John – 2020 B.C. Winter Games, Feb. 20-23, 2020;
• Maple Ridge – 2020 B.C. Summer Games, July 23-26, 2020