The City of Prince George will be financially supporting this summer’s Canadian Native Fastball Championships.
It’s an open tournament for Indigenous athletes across Canada, consisting of six divisions, 80 teams and 1,200 athletes.
A delegation from the organizing committee and Tourism Prince George requested city council’s support for the tournament, which takes place between July 31 and Aug. 3.
During last night’s public meeting (Jan. 20), the group asked council for up to $26,300 for city parks cost related to the fees and charges bylaw and rental rates, and up to $21,833 for backstop and fencing.
Three-and-a-half years ago, the Canadian Native Fastball Championship was successfully hosted in Prince George.
For the 2016 event, Council approved funding for in-kind support towards parks, rentals and operational costs and private contractor costs related to additional garbage and recycling bins and portable toilets.
“That event turned out to be very excellent and couldn’t have happened without your support. We ran a very smooth event. People were very happy,” said organizing committee chair Harley Desjarlais.
“The hotels were all full. The restaurants were all full. There was a big financial imprint too.”
He says the tourism impact of that event was over $3 million locally. However, back in 2016, the host organization, at their cost, rented portable backstops and fencing as a requirement to ensure the playing fields were to the appropriate national standard for adult fastball.
“We were patting ourselves on the back and all go on our ways and maybe never do it again,” says Desjarlais about the 2016 tournament.
“Then about nine months ago we got an indication that no one else was submitting a bid so we quickly got our team together form the past and go our community together to start doing some work.”
The 2020 Canadian Native Fastball Championship is estimated to provide a local economic impact of over $3.4 million and this level of economic impact, coupled with the scope of the event makes it eligible for consideration outside of the City’s regular SportPG Hosting program.
Therefore, the city says funding for up to $48,133 to assist with both the parks related operational costs and private contractor costs for this event is within an acceptable range under the “Major Sport Event Program” matrix.
The backstop and fencing is required to adapt existing diamonds to meet national fastball standards. By purchasing these rather than continuing to rent, the city says it will gain new assets that will further assist in sport event hosting opportunities moving forward.
“I’m coming to you today as a chairman of the board, but we are just a group of friends wanting to move sports forward. A lot of us come from disadvantaged backgrounds and we’ve learned a lot about life through sports and have passed that onto our kids as well,” said Desjarlais.
“One word that gets thrown out there a lot is reconciliation and it’s not about giving money or getting stuff from our vantage point, it’s about coming together and working collaboratively.”
The city unanimously approved the requests for $26,300 for city parks and up to $21,833 for backstop and fencing. Funding for both requests will come from the major events reserve.
This will be the 46th annual Canadian Native Fastball Championship.
The first time Prince George hosted the tournament was in 1994.