Richmond Oval stealing local sports limelight: Lamond

Richmond Oval stealing local sports limelight: Lamond

By Alan Campbell, Richmond News September 13, 2012

The City of Richmond is only interested in attracting major events to the Olympic oval and has lost touch with community sport.

That’s the frank assertion of Richmond Sports Council chair Jim Lamond in the wake of city council’s decision not to bid for the 2016 BC Summer Games.

Lamond pulled no punches in his assessment of why city staff and the majority of Richmond councillors steered clear of hosting the grassroots event for 14-16-year-old athletes in four years.

“(The city’s) focus has been lost a little and it’s not surprising that the city’s sports hosting office has been moved to the oval,” said Lamond.

“However, 90 per cent of the sports tournaments in the city are run by volunteers and are held away from the oval.

“The oval is a marvelous building, but it has to justify its existence and that’s where the city’s focus has gone.”

Richmond can’t and shouldn’t lose sight of sport in the community, insisted Lamond. “This has been a big opportunity missed.”

City staff recommended no bid be placed due to concerns over cost — estimated to be $367,000 — a strain on staff resources, ability to attract volunteers and a clash with other established sporting events.

Mayor Malcolm Brodie, along with councillors Linda Barnes, Harold Steves, Chak Au and Derek Dang voted last week to go with the staff’s view.

The rest of council, Bill McNulty, Ken Johnston, Evelina Halsey-Brandt and Linda McPhail, were all in favour of putting in a bid.

Lamond added that he was “very disappointed” about the decision and finds it “hard to believe the games are good for everywhere else in B.C., but not for Richmond.”

“We thought it was a perfect fit and some of the city staff’s numbers on this one were way out of line.

“However, our budget was $860,000 and the city’s was around $1.2 million. No summer games has ever lost money.”

Lamond said he felt city staff were “coming up with excuses more than anything else.

“They said it would interfere with programs already running in the summer, such as the Nations Cup and the Dolphin Classic. But they are flexible to their dates and are only in one location.

“I think staff have definitely lost sight of what Richmond should be going after.

“All they’re interested in is hosting big international events and all of it is geared towards the oval and we seem to be losing sight of what built this city; things that are built from the grass roots, like the BC Summer Games.”

Mayor Brodie defended the decision not to bid, saying it was a balancing act between the pros and cons of bringing the games to Richmond.

“There was a certain cost involved, but that was not a factor for me,” he said.

“I was a part of the 1979 BC Summer Games, as part of the centennial celebrations for Richmond, and I believe it when staff say it was three to four times the size of the (BC Seniors) games.

“It’s an absolutely gigantic program and it’s whether we would better serve our goals by concentrating on other items and smaller events and bring better benefits to the city.”

Brodie said the difference that pushed the prospective 2016 games into unprofitability — as opposed to recent games in Surrey and Nanaimo — was partly due to the city having to pay for the likes of janitorial services and drivers at the schools where the athletes would be lodged.

“That’s not been the agreement in the past in other cities,” said Brodie.

“If we went ahead and put this on, I’ve no doubt we’d do a first class job and the volunteers in the city would engage.

“But it’s not a matter of whether we can do it, it’s a question of whether it fits Richmond.”

Brodie took umbrage with the accusation that everything is now focused towards propping up the oval, saying there’s a wide variety of local grass roots tournaments supported by the city.

“Saying that everything is geared towards the oval is misleading,” he said.

“This is a matter of choice and about better spending our energies elsewhere.”

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COMMENT:
I’ve seen Mr Lamond in action…..and he does an excellent job, though I’ll admit I don’t agree with some of the focusses etc of the Sport Lobbying ie IMHO “Soccer” has far too much influence on the City’s decisions.
However, read between the lines of this article. Someone in Mr Lamond’s position is voicing what is going on in the backroom’s , as someone in his position has a prime seat to observe and interpret  this.

The City of Richmond is only interested in attracting major events to the Olympic oval and has lost touch with community sport.

That’s the frank assertion of Richmond Sports Council chair Jim Lamond in the wake of city council’s decision not to bid for the 2016 BC Summer Games.

 

“(The city’s) focus has been lost a little and it’s not surprising that the city’s sports hosting office has been moved to the oval,” said Lamond.

“However, 90 per cent of the sports tournaments in the city are run by volunteers and are held away from the oval.

“The oval is a marvelous building, but it has to justify its existence and that’s where the city’s focus has gone.”

What Mr. Lamomd appears to be saying is City is slowly, bit -by- bit, shifting more and more of its focusses to the Oval, and one of the key symbolic moves is to move an   sports hosting office to the Oval aka centralize.

 

I have noted many times my concerns re the Oval, that Council, in  a very underhanded fashion, imposed this White Elephant upon us.  Since then, it has thrown more good money after bad, in what I would say is an attempt to deny it is a white elephant, by keeping it in some dynamic state with adding new programs. infrastructures, events hosting.

Several years ago the City made a subtle move to take over volunteer run Community Centers,via their boards,  but the groups  resisted. Volunteer groups are cheaper and far more dedicated and accountable, we must resist empire building within bureaucracy, it rarely if ever turns out well.

So, in conclusion. Mr Lamond is sounding the warning bell that either by design or by default, the City may wittingly or unwittingly assist in the demise of Non Oval events…and that Richmond may lose opportunities to  host non oval events. This could have collateral damage now and in the future which has yet to be determined.   Nobody gave City Hall permission per se, they simply abuse their positions and not see the big picture via the death of a thousand cuts. In other words, who died and made them God?

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