Saanich council enthusiastically gave its full support to big events coming to Greater Victoria later this year.
At Monday’s council meeting, local non-profit, Friends of Victoria Basketball asked council for support and financial investment towards its We The West Festival and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic qualifying tournament.
Council unanimously supported the application, passing it over to Saanich’s financial committee. The committee will discuss the financial ask at its March 17 meeting.
Clint Hamilton, chair for the organizing committee and Friends of Victoria Basketball, is asking for $250,000 from local municipalities to host the two events. He noted to council that Saanich is the third financial ask the group has pursued. So far, they have received $90,000 from the City of Victoria and $50,000 from the City of Langford.
We The West will be a three-week celebration starting June 8, highlighting the region through various basketball events. The basketball tournament will run from June 23 to 28 and will host competitors from Greece, China, Uruguay, Czech Republic and Turkey.
Hamilton mentioned at the council meeting there are ongoing negotiations with Canadian rock band the Arkells to play a free concert on June 26 at the B.C. legislature. The festival will also host a trio of tournaments including the under–23 World Indigenous Basketball Challenge as well as an under–23 international wheelchair basketball tournament and a three-on-three youth tournament. According to Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, there will be at least 10 locations regionally hosting the youth tournaments.
Haynes noted the event will serve as “a significant asset to the people of Saanich and the region, particularly when they are planned in this way to leave a genuine legacy for our youth, Indigenous people and those dealing with disabilities.”
He added the events will open doors for others.
Saanich recently lost a bid to host the Invictus Games, an international sports tournament for wounded or sick service people and veterans created by Prince Harry. Haynes hopes if the region is able to showcase that it can successfully execute the event, the Invictus Games will give Saanich’s next application greater consideration.
“There is a need to show that despite some conversation to the contrary, this region can come together and work collectively both with financing, political will and provisions in facilities,” Haynes said.
Friend of Victoria Basketball predicts the Olympic qualifying tournament will have a $6.8 million economic impact on the region.
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