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Leadership team in place for next year’s B.C. 55-Plus Games in Nanaimo

Diana Johnstone and Mary Smith tasked with putting together board of directors
Mary Smith, left, and Diana Johnstone have been appointed by the city to be the vice-president and president, respectively, of Nanaimo’s B.C. 55-Plus Games committee. The former visitor centre at Northfield Road and the Nanaimo Parkway will be the organizing committee’s headquarters. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

The B.C. 55-Plus Games are coming to Nanaimo next year and preparations have already started with the appointments of two key leadership positions.

Diana Johnstone has accepted the role as president and Mary Smith as vice-president to lead the formation of a board of directors. Both are volunteer positions appointed by Nanaimo city council.

The first tasks for Johnstone and Smith will be to oversee the establishment of a nomination committee which will assemble an 11-member board of directors. The team will lead the planning and implementation of the Nanaimo games.

Johnstone has been involved with several provincial-level sporting events hosted in Nanaimo, including the B.C. Summer Games in 1985, 2002 and 2014, the B.C. Disability Games in 1987 and 2005 and the B.C. Seniors Games in 2007. Johnstone was a two-term city councillor and was presented with Freedom of the City in 2014.

Smith was involved with the last two B.C. Summer Games events in Nanaimo, as city staff liaison in 2002 and then as a volunteer in 2014. She retired after a 34-year career with the city’s parks, recreation and culture department.

The B.C. 55-Plus Games, which will be held Sept. 9-13, 2025, will encompass more than two dozen sports plus cultural and social opportunities, and could draw up to 4,000 participants as well as coaches, officials and spectators.

“This is just the beginning…” Johnstone said. “We’ll put together a strong team to co-ordinate the activities and we’re really looking forward to it. It’s an amazing event for the city.”

Nanaimo already has a lot of the necessary venues needed to host the games.

“Obviously, the City of Nanaimo is a partner in this with us and so we’ll have access to parks and recreation facilities for much of the sports and activities,” Smith said. “In addition to that, though, there are other sports and we have already, in the bidding process, gone out to some of those facility operators and gotten their support. In past years, we’ve used private facilities for some of the sports.”

Johnstone described the games as “really a mid Island regional event” and so Nanaimo may consider venues in Ladysmith and Parksville as well.

To support the games, the building that used to be the visitor infocentre, at the Nanaimo Parkway and Northfield Road, will be re-purposed as the B.C. 55-Plus Games organizing committee headquarters.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog, in a press release, said the city is thrilled that Johnstone and Smith will be able to bring so much passion and experience to the games leadership.

“These games will showcase our exceptional sport hosting facilities and the welcoming nature of Nanaimo,” he said. “I am confident in their leadership as we develop an unforgettable experience for athletes, officials and spectators alike. Let the planning begin.”

READ ALSO: Nanaimo to host 55-Plus B.C. Games in 2025

Chris Bush

About the Author: Chris Bush

As a photographer/reporter with the Nanaimo News Bulletin since 1998.
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