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55 + BC Games bringing the power of age to Richmond

By Coun. Bill McNulty

Published 12:49 PDT, Fri November 1, 2019

Richmond continues to enjoy a reputation of being the healthiest community in Canada with residents who, on average, are the nation’s longest living. We are also lauded for having the most outstanding sports and recreation facilities in Canada. Thus, it is only fitting that we were awarded the 55+ BC Games, which will take place Sept. 15 to 19, 2020.

Launched in 1987 and known as the Seniors Games, they were conceived to stimulate seniors to pursue a healthy lifestyle. Over the years, the Games continue to be a major event in our province, held annually in various communities, most recently in Kelowna in September 2019 where Richmond received the Games flag.

With Richmond’s ideal location, it is expected that the 2020 Games will be the largest ever. It is anticipated that over 4,000 athletes, aged 55 and over, will compete in 28 different sports and activities at venues across Richmond, making it the city’s largest-ever sporting event. For many of the athletes, this will be their first opportunity to experience the excitement of competing in an official Olympic Winter Games venue city.

Richmond’s sport plan exceeds the basic requirements of the 55+ Games mandate. We are going beyond basics to include competition for our senior citizens and build upon the concept of the 55+ Games. Included in our plan are the 28 core sports. They vary from archery, dragon boat racing, pickleball to trap shooting and track and field.

Seniors will be able to enjoy all of the facilities in what will be a predominately “vehicle-less games”. All activities are within a four-mile radius of the Games Village and the participants’ accommodation. Most are within a 10 minute walk from the village.

The initiative for these games came through the Richmond Sports Council. Partnerships were formed with the seniors groups at the eight community centres; the city’s seniors group at the Minoru Seniors Centre; Richmond multicultural community and the City.

Richmond is fortunate to have very capable, games-experienced volunteers that make up the Board of Directors for the 2020 games. The philosophy of the games is “For Seniors by Seniors.” The board has enlisted more than a thousand people offering to help with the games with that number growing every day. The majority of the lead volunteers are over 55 years.

The budget for the games includes a projected revenue of $440,000 and a legacy in excess of $75,000. But, more importantly, the Games will give lasting benefits to Richmond seniors to further develop their wellness.

Initial benefits show that the Games have already raised the consciousness about activity among seniors. Furthermore, it has expanded the partnerships between senior groups, community associations and Richmond sports groups.

The second benefit is the encouragement of an active lifestyle and sports participation. Participation in the games is by age categories depending on the activity. This structure provides for residents to take part in any of the activities.

Thirdly, the purchase of new or upgraded equipment for competition will be provided to seniors’ groups in each discipline after the games.

One very unique legacy from the games will be the enhancement of the “trust fund” for senior athletes that we established after Richmond hosted the successful 2009 Seniors Games. This trust fund is used to assist Richmond’s senior athletes in attending future athletic competitions.

The Richmond Games motto, “the Power of Age”, speaks for itself.

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