Rowing community on Vancouver Island welcomes restart funding

Rowing Canada Aviron president Carol Purcer speaks at Elk Lake in Saanich during an announcement of funding benefiting rowing programs on Tuesday (July 5). (Don Descoteau/News Staff)Rowing Canada Aviron president Carol Purcer speaks at Elk Lake in Saanich during an announcement of funding benefiting rowing programs on Tuesday (July 5). (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
With a backdrop of Elk Lake in Saanich on July 5, federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge announces funding for grassroots rowing programs in Canada, as well as the new national team training centre in the Cowichan Valley. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)With a backdrop of Elk Lake in Saanich on July 5, federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge announces funding for grassroots rowing programs in Canada, as well as the new national team training centre in the Cowichan Valley. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Members of Canada’s national rowing program gather for a photo with federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge (centre, in pants), following a funding announcement July 5 benefiting grassroots rowing programs and the new national team training facility in the Cowichan Valley. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)Members of Canada’s national rowing program gather for a photo with federal Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge (centre, in pants), following a funding announcement July 5 benefiting grassroots rowing programs and the new national team training facility in the Cowichan Valley. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)

Two pools of federal funding aim to help rowing communities at the top and bottom of the sport in Canada makes waves and grow.

Speaking outside the Victoria City Rowing Club’s boathouse at Elk Lake, Minister of Sport Pascale St-Onge announced that Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) will receive $885,000 as the third recipient of the Community Sport for All initiative. The money is intended to grow the sport from a grassroots level and create more opportunities for children and people from underserved communities to enjoy rowing at all levels of participation, St-Onge said.

“Organizations like Rowing Canada Aviron work every day to help prepare our children to succeed,” she added.

RCA president Carol Purcer said being able to pass along funds to local clubs for grassroots programs makes this an exciting time for the sport, which suffered greatly through the pandemic.

“We don’t often get the opportunity to be able to give money to our local clubs across the country to do different programs. There’s always lot of great ideas, but funding ends up limited,” she said.

Local rowing clubs will be invited to submit ideas for programming to the parent body, with proposed activities aiming to address barriers to participation in sport, particularly among Black, Indigenous and racialized communities, 2SLGBTQQIA+ groups, low-income or newcomer populations, and people with disabilities.

As well, $500,500 from the Canada Community Revitalization Fund will be provided to the Canadian Amateur Rowing Association, for infrastructure upgrades to rowing facilities in North Cowichan on Quamichan Lake, which continues its development as the new national training centre.

The money will go toward creating more parking, sustainable and accessible paths, a staging area, coach boathouse and docks for launching watercraft. Purcer said the funding will help advance the North Cowichan project more quickly than it might have otherwise been able to. Athletes with the national program have been transitioning to training on Quamichan Lake from Elk Lake in the past few years.

The site was announced as the new permanent home for the national training centre in 2019, following a bid process that saw five communities submit proposals, including a group lobbying for Elk and Beaver Lake.

The Victoria City Rowing Club continues to be a centre for youth, school and other programs.

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