DAVID BLACK: Saanich Commonwealth Pool the site of many accomplishments

Long-term, varied use of facilities one of the keys to 2022 Commonwealth Games bid

Victoria 2022 Commonwealth Games bid committee chair and Black Press owner David Black. Don Denton/Black Press

This is the latest opinion piece in a series detailing Victoria’s bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Previous Op-Ed’s in this series have shown that the 2022 Commonwealth Games will bring a great deal of funding to Victoria to help out with our housing, transportation and sport facility needs, as well as provide unsurpassed promotion for future tourism. The cost to Victoria and BC taxpayers will be minimal.

The advantage that building and running sport facilities has for our athletes and our kids and grandkids is significant as summarized in the results of our investment in the 1994 Saanich Commonwealth Games pool.

According to renowned local swim coach Peter Viszoli, this jewel of the 1994 Games was constructed at a cost of $22 million.

The Games contributed $15 million, and Saanich $6 million, for the wave pool, library and gymnasium, all of which were planned community initiatives. The municipality and sports experts worked together to create what today stands as one of the best aquatic facilities in the world, with an estimated replacement cost of $60 million.

Saanich and the community also benefit from the 1994 legacy fund that supports the costs of running the pool, engages over 700 children in competitive programs each week, and hosts 40 competitions each year with more than 5,000 out-of-town guests per year. The facility is also popular with the public with over 800,000 visits per year for recreational, lesson and community use. Programs run by clubs for the community include elementary school initiatives and competitions, municipal partnership programs and in-house learn-to-swim, age group, national and international programs.

Since 1994, local aquatic athletes have represented Canada over 130 times, with 63 medals won in major international competitions including at 18 Olympic and Paralympic events. Notable names include Stephanie Dixon (Canada’s most decorated Paralympian), Simon Whitfield (Canada’s best triathlete) and Ryan Cochrane (Canada’s all-time best distance swimmer).

Divers at Commonwealth Pool have achieved championship or medal-winning performances at almost every level. Riley McCormick represented Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Other Victoria diving accomplishments include having the second-ranked team at the junior and senior national levels for many years running, winning seven senior and 19 junior national championship individual titles, 220 national medals between the two levels, as well as medals won at the junior and senior Pan-Am Games and world junior championships.

Why shouldn’t we try to win the right to the Commonwealth Games again? They will be great for our community and our province in many ways. The pride and spirit generated in 1994 as we all pulled together and worked to be great hosts will be replicated, and $1 billion of new infrastructure will be the result.

David Black is chair of the 2022 Victoria Commonwealth Games bid committee and owner of Black Press, which publishes this newspaper.