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West Kelowna  

West Kelowna 'Kraft' Hockeyville bid

If the enthusiasm exhibited at Wednesday morning's kickoff is any indication, West Kelowna is Hockeyville.

About 200 people packed into a small office in the Westbank Hub Shopping Centre for the official announcement -- West Kelowna is bidding to become Kraft Hockeyville 2012.

The winning community, announced live on Hockey Night in Canada March 31, 2012 will receive $100,000 in arena upgrades and will host a National Hockey League pre season game.

West Kelowna's bid was formally announced by former Calgary Flames captain and West Kelowna resident, Todd Simpson.

"Six years ago a hockey phenomenon began to sweep across Canada. Hundreds of communities from the Maritimes to Vancouver Island have become a part of the growing legacy. Today, I'm here to announce West Kelowna to officially announce our entry into Kraft Hockeyville 2012," stated Simpson.

"Preparations are already underway for several major community events in support of our bid and engage our community. I encourage everyone in West Kelowna to come together and show Canada that we are Hockeyville."

West Kelowna's bid is being supported by both the District of West Kelowna and the Westbank First Nation.

"I know that people of the Westbank First Nation are a passionate people and we love the game of hockey. There are few communities who appreciate the value of culture and community spirit like the First Nation's aboriginal peoples," says WFN Chief, Robert Louie.

"Kraft Hockeyville is the embodiment of both. We are extremely proud of our Okanagan heritage, about who we are. As Chief of the of the Westbank First Nation I call upon our people to show our pride and to demonstrate our strong community bond by supporting our collective communities efforts to show Canada West Kelowna is Hockeyville."

West Kelowna Mayor, Doug Findlater, says the announcement is great news for the community.

"It's something that does bring us all together in our community and in partnership with Westbank First Nation, the Warriors and all the hockey organizations. It's really something that is a community builder," says Findlater.

"Hockey is very important, particularly to our youth. It creates camaraderie, creates friendships, keeps our youth active and happy, they learn the importance of working together and achieving goals. I look forward to seeing West Kelowna highlighted in Kraft Hockeyville, I look forward to us winning, giving the rest Canada an opportunity to see our amazing spirit and putting our good community on the map."

The only previous B.C. community to win the Hockeyville competition was Terrace in 2009.

Andrew Deans, co-chair of the West Kelowna bid committee was also a member of the winning Terrace bid.

Deans says it's important now for people in the community to write hockey and community related stories, post pictures and videos to the Kraft Hockeyville website.

"Right now, write a story. Make sure it has some substance. Anybody can say 'I believe West Kelowna is Hockeyville', but we would like you to add some substance whether it's a half page, one page or two pages, as long as you feel you've written it from your heart," says Deans.

"Any pictures you may have from your past hockey experiences, post those pictures because that shows your support in hockey and in our bid."

Several community events are also being planned, including Winterfest December 4 at Royal LePage Place.

The day culminates with a firefighters hockey game.

Other events will be announced at a later date.

Committee Co-chair Adam Less says the community began getting behind the bid even before the official announcement was made.

Less says Servicemaster, a West Kelowna restoration company got wind of the bid and donated $1,000 cash.

He says they have challenged other companies in West Kelowna to do the same.

The official West Kelowna Hockeyville office, located next to Burger King, will be open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

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