Steve Nash and Catriona Le May Doan used the 1993 Canada Summer Games in Kamloops to help launch some of the most notable careers in Canadian sports history.
This city used the Games to help establish its identity.
“The biggest thing is what an impact it had on Kamloops as a community and how it has laid the foundation for so many other great events to be hosted by Kamloops,” said Vic Poleschuk, who was president of the 1993 Games.
“The legacy of community pride, community spirit, volunteerism and event management — all of those things are really the cornerstones of the Tournament Capital of Canada program today.”
The Games, which ran from Aug. 6 to Aug. 22, featured more than 8,400 volunteers.
Kamloops had a population of about 70,000 in 1993.
More than 3,000 athletes and 675 coaches and managers participated at facilities across the city, many of which were built or improved in time for the event, with about $11 million poured into infrastructure upgrades.
Benefitting facilities included the Canada Games Aquatic Centre, Hillside Stadium, Kamloopa Club, the Shumway Lake Regatta Centre, the sailing centre at Nicola Lake, Kamloops Rugby Club, Charles Anderson Stadium, the Rotary Tennis Centre, Cottonwood Park and Canada Games Field, along with more upgrades on McArthur Island.
“The key thing with that is what the community has done with those since that time, which I think is the far more important part,” said Poleschuk, who at 64 is semi-retired but still working for a Vancouver company in the gaming business.
“The sport programming and athletic development, those are things that led to folks like Dylan Armstrong being able to train locally, compete provincially and internationally, and then you win an Olympic medal,” Poleschuk said.
More than $700,000 of sporting equipment was supplied for the Games.
Poleschuk praised members of the local sports community for picking up the torch and running with it, mentioning Henry Pejril and Norm Daley for their work in organizing major events such as the Brier, Western Canada Summer Games and Women’s World Hockey Championship.
The national event held 25 years ago was also part of the genesis of Music in the Park, sponsored then and now by the B.C. Lottery Corporation, which was an official sponsor of the 1993 Games.
“It was a tremendous moment of community unification, with sponsors jumping on board,” Poleschuk said. “Everyone did that and played a part to make it happen.”
Poleschuk is asking those who attend a 25th anniversary celebration event on Wednesday to bring memorabilia from the Games to help mark the occasion.
The event will begin at 6:40 p.m. at the Rotary Park Riverside Bandshell, before Music in the Park programming gets underway.
“As I’ve talked to a number of folks over the last few weeks and months, it’s really less about celebrating what we did 25 years ago and more about recognizing how pivotal that event was in making Kamloops what it is today,” Poleschuk said.