The 55-Plus BC Games flag has officially been passed from Abbotsford to Salmon Arm, as organizers of the 2024 Games begin counting down the days to the next event.
Debbie Cannon, a Salmon Arm councillor, is the president of the 2024 Games Board of Directors.
It’ll be the first time that Salmon Arm has hosted an event of this magnitude and Cannon said she believes her hometown is up to the task.
“We’re feeling excited,” she said, prior to the official passing of the flag on Friday (Aug. 25). “Coming down to Abbotsford and shadowing was amazing for us to do because it puts a whole different perspective – answers questions, gives ideas and we have learned a lot. It’s going to be so beneficial for us.”
Cannon served three terms on council from 2005 to 2014 and went on to win council seats in 2018 and 2022. She said an event like the 55-Plus BC Games has been on her radar for years and bringing the Games to Salmon Arm was one of her goals.
“I’ve wanted our community to host a big event like this for many years,” she said.
Cannon said Salmon Arm hosting the 2005 National Women’s Under 18 Hockey Championship helped her to realize the power that sports can bring to a city. She was on the organizing committee for that event and stated it was a big success. She also believes that hosting this event will be a good way to gauge how Salmon Arm would deal with hosting a BC Summer or Winter Games in the future.
“This is a manageable event to get our toes wet,” she said, noting that less organizational work is needed with the older athletes.
She said Abbotsford has done an excellent job hosting, but that she would like the Salmon Arm games to have more signage. Cannon said she wants to make it very obvious when the Games are here and that could be easier to do in a smaller city like Salmon Arm.
“We didn’t see a lot of signs coming in,” she said. “Speaking from a smaller community, it will be a tighter event and that is kind of an advantage for us.”
Another concern is air quality. The Abbotsford games experienced challenging air quality conditions on Friday and Saturday (Aug. 26) and B.C.’s Interior has been hit hard by fires this summer. Cannon said those concerns led the board to select dates in September to hopefully avoid those issues. The Salmon Arm games run from Sept. 10 to 14, 2024.
One issue the Salmon Arm Games will face is the lack of a suitable track for track and field events. Track events will not be held in 2024, but Cannon said it’s possible that the field events will occur. She said Salmon Arm will have the potential to do other sports like mountain biking, a triathlon and other water sports due to the proximity of the city to Shuswap Lake.
For more information on the Salmon Arm Games, visit 55plusbcgames.org/salmonarm2024.