Two Castlegar youth sports organizations are getting some financial help thanks to the province’s $1.5-million Local Sport Relief Fund.
The Castlegar Skating Club and Selkirk Challengers Gymnastics Club are among 28 Kootenay sports organizations receiving the funding meant to help offset costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many sports organizations have faced financial hardships due to cancelled games and in some cases, entire seasons being cancelled. COVID-19 restrictions have also curtailed many of the organization’s fundraising efforts.
Selkirk Challengers Gymnastics received $6190. They will be using the funding for coaches’ wages and rent.
“Even with dramatically decreased rent thanks to our amazing landlord — Kinnaird Park Community Church, our club was still struggling to re-open after being closed for almost six months from mid-March to the end of August,” explained club spokesperson Amy Lockhart.
“We are thankful that the Castlegar community put their trust in us, and we were able to register enough gymnasts to reopen in September 2020. However, our registration numbers were cut in half compared to pre-covid times, and as we moved forward from session to session, the club was still at risk of becoming financially unstable.”
Lockhart says the grant will give the club financial security and enable them to remain open for the rest of the 2020/2021 season without the worry of smaller registration numbers.
“It also gives our four amazing and dedicated coaches some well-deserved job security,” added Lockhart.
The Castlegar Skating Club received $2500.
The club’s treasurer, Cara Lee Stewart the funding is a bright spot in an otherwise tough year.
The club will be using the money to keep their CanSkate program going. The program saw a significant drop in registrations due to COVID-19, but the club kept operating it anyway because they felt it was an important program since it is their main “learn to skate” program.
“We have taken losses, so this money will help cover those prior losses that we took in order to keep offering the program to the kids,” said Stewart.
Skating has looked a lot different this year with no parents allowed in the complex, kids arriving fully dressed and geared up and much smaller classes — eight kids per class instead of the usual 30.
The club will be wrapping up its CanSkate program towards the end of February and its Star Skate program in mid-March.
The West Kootenay Timberwolves, based out of Rossland, received $1535 funding. They will be using the funds to offset costs incurred to prepare for the cancelled 2020 season.
“Coaches, volunteers and board members have worked around the clock to ensure people can keep active and gain the physical and mental benefits of sport during the pandemic,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “We heard their challenges to meet financial pressures with current health orders in place and are proud to provide this additional support so our communities can continue to offer sport in a safe way.”
The funds can be used to help with administration and operational costs such as insurance, rent, storage costs, COVID-19 related supplies and equipment essential to providing sports programs.