The Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport announced on Tuesday morning that it has formed the Amateur Sport League Fund to provide $11 million in grants to aid in the recovery of financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fund is a one-time financial boost for BC-based and BC-owned teams and leagues and will go to both non-profit and for-profit amateur recipients. In total, 72 organizations and leagues will benefit from the funding, including the BC Hockey League itself and a number of its member clubs.
“We are pleased to see this investment in amateur sport and glad to partner in the distribution of these grants,” said Charlene Krepiakevich, CEO, viaSport in a news release. “In communities around the province, amateur sport leagues, teams, coaches and supporters foster the development of our B.C. athletes. This funding will help ensure that the amateur sport system pulls through the pandemic so that our athletes can play another day and sport can continue to be an integral part of the economic and social fabric of our communities.”
Teams and leagues needed to demonstrate that they had lost no less than 30 per cent in revenue since March 2020 due to COVID-19. ViaSport will administer the funds on behalf of the BC government.
Premier and I believe in the power of sport and how it inspires, develops self-confidence and lift us all up!
— Melanie Mark (@melaniejmark) July 27, 2021
BCHL teams explicitly named on the list of recipients include the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen, Merritt Centennials, Penticton Vees, Powell River Kings, Surrey Eagles, Trail Smoke Eaters, and Victoria Grizzlies.
“We are so grateful for all those that were involved with the process and approval of this grant,” said Blaine Neufeld, general manager, Surrey Eagles. “This grant is an absolute game changer for us. We have an amazing staff, team, and community and because of this grant, we can now focus on how we will shoot for our goals here in the upcoming season.”
In addition, Chilliwack Sports Entertainment LP, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Cranbrook Hockey, and Vernon Hockey (2018) Ltd are listed as recipients of the funding, but it isn’t clear if they are tied to BCHL teams. One could surmise that they are, but it’s impossible to say for sure.
BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb outlined in April 2020 that the league planned to approach the federal and provincial governments for help to offset the financial losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.