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Outgames lobbies province

A lot hinges on getting gov't funding: Boychuk

Outgames president John Boychuk has lobbied the province for funding to support the seven-day queer sport, culture and human rights event, which is just over four months away. Credit: Natasha Barsotti

2011 North American Outgames president John Boychuk has lobbied the province for funding to support the seven-day queer sport, culture and human rights event, which is just over four months away.

Boychuk attended a March 7 meeting in Victoria with representatives from the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Tourism, as well as officials from the offices of the solicitor general and attorney general.  He presented an outline of the Games and requested funding support.

Boychuk would not say how much he asked for, explaining the issue is “quite sensitive” and that he wants to be professional and not divulge too much information about the application while it is still being considered. He did say he was told that the amount requested was a “reasonable ask.”

Asked why it took so long to approach the province, Boychuk explained that the process needed considerable planning, and the political climate has not been ideal in recent months.

“We have not been waiting,” he assures. “There have been a lot of changes going on in politics,” he maintains, pointing to the Liberal leadership race as one issue.

Boychuk says he has been in communication with the province about the Games since the summer of 2008, prior to winning the Games bid in the fall of that year. He says it took until fall of 2010 to set up a meeting with the province because it took time for organizers to contact and network with various  community stakeholders. He says it was important to be armed with as much information as possible before lobbying for funds.

Boychuk says a lot is riding on obtaining provincial and civic funding for the event, adding that the Outgames does not qualify for federal sport grant funds because they are considered to be a friendly, not competitive, sporting event.

Community fundraising is planned in the coming months, he adds. Websites and newsletters have been used to draw attention to the Games, says Boychuk. While he couldn’t give the number of volunteers he has lined up, he did confirm that a volunteer base is in place and initiatives are in the works to attract more volunteers

Gay MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert backed Boychuk’s funding request and provided him with a letter of support for his meeting with the province.

Chandra Herbert says Boychuk was told the government would provide support for the Games after the bid went through in October 2008. Since then, Chandra Herbert says, the event has been overlooked.

“They [Outgames] were put on the backburner, or off the stove completely,” he contends. “It’s worrisome,” he continues. “The BC Liberals have put money on the table for other sporting events of this nature.”

“We could’ve had bigger games with a broader global impact,” he adds.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development confirms the province has received a formal funding request, which is being considered.

Meanwhile, Boychuk has reapplied to the city for a Vancouver 125th Anniversary Grant in the amount of $35,000. He previously applied for $100,000 but was turned down. Boychuk says he will know in May if his application to the city is successful.

Last month, The Vancouver Parks board officially awarded the Outgames a Sport Host grant in the sum of $100,000.