Casey Edmunds, executive director of the 2020 Victoria Francophones Games, says he remains hopeful that Saanich will contribute towards the games. (Submitted/2020 Victoria Francophones Games).

Saanich says ‘non’ to funding request for 2020 Victoria Francophone Games

Councillors leave open the door for future funding

A national competition recognizing one of Canada’s official languages will not receive any financial support from Saanich for the time being, with the event little more than a year away from coming to Greater Victoria.

Council Monday approved a statement in support of the Victoria 2020 Francophones Games, but stopped short of putting $50,000 towards the event scheduled for July 14-18, 2020 across several municipalities, including Saanich.

Coun. Karen Harper had proposed the financial support, which she said have hinge on the provincial government raising its contribution towards the Games by another $250,000 to $500,000.

But Harper eventually withdrew her funding motion after several councillors signalled their opposition.

“The ink is hardly dry on our budget,” said Coun. Susan Brice, who said she was conflicted about the request. “But I find that I am unable to give it my support, because basically it is a $50,000 decision with no notice other than what was stated a few minutes ago.”

Coun. Judy Brownoff agreed, with both Brice and Brownoff leaving open the possibility of funding the Games at a later stage. Saanich’s previous council had rejected an earlier funding request.

Casey Edmunds, executive director of the Games, said Monday’s discussion showed general support, but admitted Harper’s motion came as a “shock and surprise” for her colleagues.

Edmunds called Harper a “great ally” for the Games, who understands their benefits, and he plans to meet with her in the future.

“We are still hopeful that council will see the value of the project,” he said.

RELATED: Francophone Games coming to Victoria in 2020 need 600 French-speaking volunteers

Harper called the event a “once-in-a-life-time opportunity” that would benefit youth from across the country, much the same that the Invictus Games benefit Canadian veterans, show Saanich’s inclusiveness, increase the visibility of the local Francophone community, and generally raise Saanich’s national profile.

According to Edmunds, the games have a budget of $4.4 million, with the federal government contributing $1.98 million in confirmed funding. Organizers have also asked the provincial government for $650,000. Within this context, Edmunds could not confirm the figures cited by Harper. “We [the organizers] are awaiting a public announcement from the province concerning any funds towards the Games,” he said.

Victoria and Oak Bay have announced that each of them would contribute $50,000. Other identified sources of funding include athletes’ registration fees as well as local and national corporate sources among others.

The public also heard Monday that the Games will need to find up to 700 French-speaking volunteers. Edmunds said in an interview that organizers have already reached out to a number of potential partners including universities, schools and parents. They will also step up recruitment efforts in the coming months at various community events inside and outside of Saanich such the Music in the Park program and Canada Day celebrations.

Victoria would be the eighth and most western community to host the Games. Compared to other host cities, it would also have the lowest share of residents who identify French as their mother tongue. According to the 2016 census, Greater Victoria is home to 5,890 people who consider French their first language. Another 975 consider English and French their first spoken languages. This means 6,375 — or 1.8 per cent — of the regional population consider French their primary language. About 36,460 residents — or about 10 per cent of all residents — claim to have knowledge of both English and French, but the figures do not say anything about their fluency.

Edmunds remains confident that the Games will be a success for all involved parties. The French-speaking community in Greater Victoria is larger and more diverse than many might think, he said. The games, he said, would not only strengthen current ties within this community, but also highlight its historic contributions to the region.

“Who is telling that story right now?” he asked.

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

SD62 student places third in province-wide French competition

12-year-old Sasha Zandieh won third with a speech on poet Pablo Neruda

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve investigating after sea lion found shot in the head

Animal is believed to have been killed somewhere between Ucluelet and Tofino

Most Read