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Hansen skips budget shoes, donates dollars to wheelchair sports

Instead of buying a new pair of shoes for budget day, finance minister Colin Hansen made a donation to the British Columbia Wheelchair Sports Association, a group uncertain about the future of its government funding.

The organization kept its funding in the last fiscal year while many other sports organizations received cuts, said executive director Kathy Newman. “We were fortunate with gaming because we had a three year license and so we did not get cut this year. We're not too sure what next year's going to look like. We're cautiously optimistic.”

Asked what she thought about the cuts, she said, “It's a bit of a challenge for the system.”

She added, “When you just go through a major event like we just have this past two weeks or 17 days and we see the benefits of sport, physical activity, and the national pride that it brought . . . it would be a shame to not keep the momentum going and continue to invest.”

Hansen, who scrimmaged with wheelchair rugby players in front of the Legislature before scrumming with reporters, said he wrote the association a personal cheque for $3,000, a decision made with the advice of Surrey-Panorama MLA Stephanie Cadieux. Last year he gave $4,000 to the Salvation Army to buy shoes for people who are homeless.

Hansen said tomorrow's budget will include documentation of the amount the province has spent on sports, though he acknowledged some groups received cuts last year. “We've come through a very, very challenging year. I think it was incumbent on government's to look across the spectrum of discretionary spending and find ways that we could tighten our belt and we did that.”

The budget will be focused on supporting families and building on the Olympic legacy, he said. “It's still going to be a belt tightening budget,” he said.

Garett Hickling, a veteran on the national wheelchair rugby team, said Hansen did “very well” in the scrimmage. “Lots of people drop balls and have trouble pushing. He held his own out there.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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