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Penticton gets 2028 BC Summer Games, joins Kamloops in 50th anniversary

At a catered affair mid-afternoon Monday in the gymnasium of the Okanagan College Penticton campus, with a small crowd of VIPs, city leaders and invited guests looking on, the speculation became reality.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

Penticton would host the 2028 BC Summer Games.

The announcement came just hours after another similar announcement a couple hundred kilometers northwest in Kamloops. "Tournament Capital" as it's known, would host that year's BC Winter Games.

The same-day dual announcements were apparently in the works for some time.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> The PIB's Anona Kampe sings the Okanagan Song

The very first BC Summer Games were held in Penticton in 1978 and the first Winter Games one year later in Kamloops. On their 50th anniversary in 2028, the two would return to their birthplaces. The selection processes were uncontested.

Making the Penticton announcement was BC Games' Board of Directors Chair Niki Remesz, who was also on hand in Kamloops for the morning event.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> BC Games' Board of Directors Chair Niki Remesz makes the announcement

Getting the ball rolling Monday was brand new City of Penticton Manager of Recreation, Arts and Culture Joanne Malar. Up next was storyteller and educator Anone Kampe of the Penticton Indian Band. Then it was Remesz's turn.

After she made it official, Remesz raised her hands and led the crowd in applause.

BC Games' Board of Directors Chair Niki Remesz

There were several speakers after that and even some rather impressive demonstrations of basketball and volleyball.

But missing in all of the above were details. Details like approximate overall cost, approximate taxpayer cost, expected venues, expected athlete numbers, and even specific dates. All of that will come in the weeks and months ahead.

Granted, Monday's BC Games' media release estimated that the economic benefit to a Summer Games' host community is $2 million.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Penticton's new Manager of Recreation, Arts and Culture Joanne Malar acted as MC

After her stint as MC, Malar, who swam for Canada at three straight Olympics (1992, 1996 and 2000), narrowly missing the podium on several occasions, talked to PentictonNow about leafing through the documents from the original 1978 Penticton event.

"They talked about the importance of really connecting and showcasing our town and our community," she said.

"And for me, I've seen sports transcend all barriers. And this being a multi-sport event, bringing BC to Penticton will showcase our city and so many of our venues.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Basketball and volleyball demos were part of the event

"You know, I went to the Winter Games opening ceremonies in 2016, and the emotion I felt there as a spectator, the sense of pride in the community, it's such an important thing. I'm so thrilled Penticton gets to showcase our town and our youth."

And while there's been no official word yet on Games' sites, Malar speculated that competitions could unfold as far away as Summerland and that venues such as Okanagan College could potentially host both basketball and volleyball.

Later, Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield was all about communities.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield

"It’s about building community," he said. "It's about building the future, about building future generations, it's about strengthening the bonds between the different communities – between Penticton and the Penticton Indian Band and the neighbouring communities around us."

Bloomfield, who told PentictonNow he personally "loved" the ideas of the Games coming to town, confirmed they were awarded rather than contested.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who>

"It's their initiative to hold the games here," he said. "They felt it was a good thing to do for a 50th anniversary. And we welcome that. Tourism here has had a few knocks in the past few years."

PIB Chief Greg Gabriel, sitting beside Bloomfield during the event, called the announcement "huge" and said he's "really happy for the City of Penticton."

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> PIB Chief Greg Gabriel

"It’s great, absolutely it’s huge," he told us. "Today, our youth is being challenged. And to see something like this coming to the city, hopefully it inspires young athletes and young adults to continue along with positive, healthy lifestyles."

Gabriel indicated the PIB is open to liberal involvement.

<who>Photo Credit: NowMedia/Gord Goble</who> Basketball and volleyball demos were part of the event

"We have a few years," he said. "Talking with the mayor, we'll certainly sit down and have discussions to see what the PIB can offer. Culturally or whatever, we're certainly there.

"When you have an opportunity to bring that many young people together with something this good and positive, you have to seize that opportunity."

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