A local rowing official expressed disappointment in the decision by Rowing Canada Aviron to establish its permanent training centre in North Cowichan, but also tried to keep things in perspective.
“We are all disappointed and sad,” said Brenda Taylor, club manager of Victoria City Rowing Club (VCRC) and boat house manager for the Victoria Rowing Society, when asked about the announcement by Rowing Canada Aviron to establish a permanent national training centre in North Cowichan.
VCRC, along with the City of the Langford and Shawnigan Lake, had submitted one of the five bids that made the final list of competitors.
Taylor’s disappointment stems from the long history of Saanich hosting national team athletes in echoing comments from Adam Kreek, who had trained in Saanich on his way to winning to an Olympic Gold medal in 2008 in the most prestigious rowing event, the men’s eight.
But Taylor also said the club understood the process, adding that Rowing Canada will retain a presence.
“It’s not like we are never going to see them again,” she said, noting that national team athletes will continue to practice in Saanich leading up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. They will also have a presence beyond that competition, said Taylor, who expects a lengthy transition.
Jennifer Walinga, who chaired the selection committee, said national team athletes will still be able to train in Saanich during the first two years of an Olympic cycle. Junior national rowers and teams will also continue to have a presence in the region, she said.
The decision in favour of North Cowichan by Rowing Canada Aviron will have an impact on the budget of the boat house that the Victoria Rowing Society operates. Rowing Canada Aviron is one of four partners in the society — the others include VCRC, Greater Victoria Youth Rowing Society, and the University of Victoria — and as such responsible for 25 per cent of revenues generated. Taylor said it is too early to say what sort of financial impact the society will have to absorb.
This said, the closure of one window of opportunity, may open another one, she said.
Elk/Beaver Lake will continue to host high level rowing competitions, as Saanich boasts an “active and dynamic” rowing community that goes beyond Rowing Canada Aviron, she said.