Former Saanich mayor Murray Coell

Former Saanich mayor Murray Coell

Commonwealth Games anniversary party to welcome thousands back to Saanich

Aug. 23 event will commemorate 1994 Commonwealth Games, a 'turning point' for sport in Victoria, says organizer

Saanich’s benefits from the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games are easy to see, and it’s almost time for those who experienced the motto “Catch the Spirit” to re-live it at the Pacific Institute of Sport Excellence on Aug. 23.

The 20th anniversary party for the Victoria 1994 Commonwealth Games gave us the ‘Commonwealth Kids’ generation, led by Claremont secondary came Olympic diver Riley McCormick and two-time Olympic medalist swimmer Ryan Cochrane. They grew up in Saanich Commonwealth Place, benefitting from the high performance programs in place thanks to the 1994 games and are are going to this summer’s 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, July 23 to Aug. 4.

“The spirit lives on,” said Jim Reed, who was the executive vice-president of the 1994 CWG. “It’s a family reunion. We expect two to three thousand people to show up.

There were 14,000 volunteers, organizers and athletes during the ‘94 games, and the event was a turning point for sport in the Capital Region and the country, Reed said.

Bringing the Commonwealth Game to Victoria was a cross-municipal endeavour with Saanich solidifying the bid by building Saanich Commonwealth Place. It took a lot of hard work, recalled then Saanich mayor Murray Coell, who’ll be on hand at the anniversary party.

“We had a good partnership with the federal and provincial governments who brought money to the table, and we’d just completed a Saanich community referendum which voted in favour of a new recreation centre, so we put it all together building Commonwealth Place.

“The Commonwealth Games will always be a major part of my life, being on that board of directors, met so many wonderful people, my den still has 1994 memorabilia.”

The 60-year-old Coell is winding down after 28 years of elected office, during which time he was a Saanich councillor and mayor, before becoming a Liberal MLA.

“There was an energy the Commonwealth Games created that I experienced again as part of Gordon Campbell’s cabinet getting the 2010 Olympics. They both create such positive legacies for people and communities, a big part of your life.”

PISE is among the most recent additions to the Victoria high performance athletic community, built from the legacy of the 1994 Commonwealth Games.

Volunteers from Victoria 1994 CWG are invited to wear the teal coloured jumper and join the anniversary party at PISE on Aug. 23. It will feature the return of mascot Klee Wyck, CWG athletes from 1994 and 2014, and demos by Rugby Canada and the Victoria Highlanders.

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

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