Victoria, BC – The 20th Anniversary of the Victoria Commonwealth Games was celebrated in style today at PISE (Pacific Institute for Sport Excellence) with an afternoon of activities and sporting events.

A ground-breaking ceremony was held for the PISE Track Project, and an official presentation of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award to five community leaders. The Victoria ’94 celebration also acknowledged the volunteers, organizers, and athletes who gave their time and commitment to make the 1994 Victoria Commonwealth Games a success.

The afternoon of activities included physical literacy stations, adaptive sport demos, pin trading, and demos by the Victoria Highlanders F.C. and the Rugby Canada Women’s Team. It was also a chance for volunteers, organizers and athletes to reminisce about the Games.

“The 1994 Commonwealth Games were a defining moment for Victoria where one magical summer people from all ages and walks of life came together to celebrate community, sport and culture,” said Jim Reed and Elaine Dagg-Jackson, Co-Chairs of the 20th Anniversary Celebration Committee. ”Now twenty years later the community has come together once again to celebrate Victoria’s shining accomplishment and the many legacies it shaped. The baton has been passed to PISE, to protect and grow the Games legacies, and it’s fitting that it is hosting the 20-year reunion.”

George Heller, President of the XV Commonwealth Games concurs: “Perhaps the greatest legacy of the Victoria Games is the world class training and education facilities at PISE. All of Canada has benefited from this evolving and expanding legacy of the Games; you need only to reflect on the great number of winning Canadian athletes that has passed through its facilities to see its impact.”

The groundbreaking for PISE’s next expansion – Phase I of the Track Project – was held with the announcement of its first major funding towards the overall project: from the Government of British Columbia, Tire Stewardship BC, and PacificSport Victoria. In November 2013 PISE announced this project, which will consist of an accessible 4-lane, 400-metre track and incline training area with spectator seating.

“The PISE Track Project represents the next major step forward for this outstanding facility, and is a much needed addition that will greatly enhance the PISE experience for high performance athletes, students and the community,” said Robert Bettauer, CEO of PISE.  “We sincerely thank our major funding partners to date, the Government of British Columbia, Tire Stewardship BC, and PacificSport Victoria for providing significant initial funding commitments to help this project get off the ground for target of full completion in 2015.”

“Tire Stewardship is proud to partner with PISE on this wonderful community initiative that supports the high performance development of Canadian athletes, and the wellness of our community. We are so proud to be part of this legacy of the XV Commonwealth Games,” said Rosemary Sutton, Executive Director, Tire Stewardship BC.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, a sample track was unveiled, made from BC recycled rubber. “The use of BC recycled rubber for the track surface is an excellent example of how British Columbians benefit when scrap tires are diverted from landfill and recycled into marketable products. TSBC is very proud to have contributed $3m to 145 communities throughout BC that have used BC recycled rubber in community projects,” Sutton added.

At an official formal ceremony following the groundbreaking, the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, presented five community leaders with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. The award recognizes individuals who volunteer their time to help others and who make a positive impact in the community.

The five recipients are: Liz Ashton, Keith Dagg, George Heller, Roger Skillings and John Walton. All five individuals volunteered their time and expertise to the XV Commonwealth Games, ensuring the Games success and that the legacy of the Games would have a lasting and positive effect in Victoria.

George Heller recalls: “The Victoria Commonwealth Games stood the test of time and was a real tribute to the people of Victoria. The facilities built for the Games were seamlessly incorporated into the daily lives of Victorians and Canadians, and the volunteer spirit of the 15,000 volunteers that ran the Games continues to manifest itself in the countless initiatives that enrich life in Victoria to this day.”

John Walton, Chair of the XV Commonwealth Games, also remembers how 1994 was a special time in the history of Victoria. “It was amazing how the whole community came together to host the Commonwealth; we exceeded everybody’s expectations and left a legacy of volunteerism and sporting excellence that continues today. The 20-year reunion is an opportunity to renew old friendships and remind ourselves just how great a time we all had in 1994.”