For the second year in a row, next years Elders Gathering will be held in the Vancouver Convention Centre. (Denise Titian photo)
For the second year in a row there were no successful bids for the upcoming BC Elder’s Gathering (BCEG) and that means that the BC Elders Communication Center Society will host the event in Vancouver.
The announcement was made at the 43rd Annual BCEG on July 22 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) located on the waterfront of downtown Vancouver. Approximately 1,800 elders and support people attended the event, after more than 3,000 elders registered for last year’s gathering in Duncan, which saw an estimated 5,000 total participants, including elders, hosts, dignitaries and volunteers.
According to the BC Elders Communication Center Society (BCECCS), when there are no bids to host a gathering, the BCECCS is the default bid. That means that future gatherings that are hosted by BCECCS will be in Vancouver.
The BCECCS hosted the BC Elders Gathering in Campbell River in 2017. But the Vancouver Island location is not on the table because Campbell River no longer has a catering company large enough to meet the needs of a BCEG.
According to the BCECCS several factors must be considered when someone offers to host the BCEG, including the size of the venue, suitable catering services and adequate accommodations for the traveling elders.
“So, the Vancouver Convention Centre will be our society’s ‘go-to’ site of choice for the Elders Gathering should our provincial office host again,” wrote Donna Stirling, BCECCS Coordinator. “The elders have been more excited about this location than any others in many, many years and even though it costs more to stay in the lower mainland.”
The cost seems to have been prohibitive for many elders with the $300 to $400 per person registration fee on top of travel and accommodation costs.
Gourmet catered lunches and dinners were provided, but breakfast and snacks were dropped from the menu due to the high cost of food and servers. This was a problem from some diabetic elders that require healthy snacks to keep their blood sugar stable. Unaware that there would be no snacks, they were forced to search for nearby stores that sold things like fresh fruit.
The last time the BCEG was held in Vancouver was in 2007. That was when registration fees started so that organizers could cover the cost of the food.
And because the event is at the VCC, organizers must abide by their rules and standards. For this event 150 union servers delivered five star meals to the 1,800 elders and their support people over the two days.
While food is paid for through registration fees from the elders or sponsors, the BCEG would not be possible without generous contributions from First Nations Health Authority, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, BC Assembly of First Nations, B.C.’s Ministry of Environment and the Provincial Health Service Authority.
Corporate sponsorship came from BC Hydro, Fortis BC, BC Housing, JFK Law, Cermaq Canada, Coast Hotels, Sure Copy, UPS and VOSH Audio Visual.