The provincial and federal governments announced $1.3 million in new joint funding for high performance athletes Monday at the new Canadian Sports Centre Pacific gym in Cheakamus Crossing.
The money will be funneled through the Own The Podium program and will help fund the CSC Pacific campuses in Victoria, which caters to summer athletes, and Whistler.
Generally speaking, the money will help to deliver the Canadian Sport Institute strategy put forward by Own The Podium that will provide support and resources to athletes training to reach the top levels of their sports.
Alex Baumann, a former Olympic swimming champion and the CEO of Own The Podium, said the 2010 Games and creation of Own The Podium marked a "new era of sport of Canada," and that the creation of a Canadian Sport Institute would give Canadian athletes a better shot at podiums in the future.
"We have to look at sustainability (of our sports) as well, and institutes are a large part of that," he said in Whistler on Monday as the new funding was announced. "I was in Australia for 15 years and saw the benefits of running a network of sports institutes, the national institute and the eight state institutes.
"I think that we can do even better than Australia."
Baumann explained that with one national institute in Australia, and sport institutes in every state, there was a lot of friction between different institutes when it came to athletes and funding. By comparison, Canada will have four national institutes dedicated to different sports that won't compete with each other in any way.
While B.C. is matching funds with the federal government, both of those groups are on the same page as well. Ida Chong, B.C.'s Minister of State for Sport, noted earlier in the presentation that, "we can't forget that B.C. is part of a larger athlete and coach development system."
Chong also pointed out that the Province of B.C. was the first to contribute to the $110 million Own The Podium program when it was launched.
Funding the gym in the High Performance Centre is one of the ways the institute will provide for athletes and coaches, as well as concentrating on a wide range of services under one roof, from nutritional advice to sports sciences. There will also be a research and development component.
To complete the institute, there are 20 townhomes and a 100-bed lodge at Cheakamus Crossing for athletes living and training in Whistler.
John Furlong, the former VANOC CEO and now president of Own The Podium, also spoke at the presentation. He said the 2010 Olympic Games were a fantastic experience that awoke Canada to the possibilities of sport. He credited Own The Podium for Canada's performance of 14 gold medals - the most of any nation at a Winter Games. The real work, he said, begins now.
"It's something to build on," said Furlong. "It's about pressing on and building a culture where every child in our country will realize what sport is all about."
The $1.3 million in funding is a small part of the CSC Pacific's budget. With the addition of $650,000 for the sport institute program, the Government of Canada will have invested $3,070,458 in the CSC Pacific for 2010-2011.
The Province of B.C. has budgeted $47 million in 2010-2011 to support sport programming, not including $655 million in sport infrastructure and $12 million to support sporting events around the province.