British Columbia

'It's heartbreaking': Floods force cancellation of international baseball tournament

Extensive flooding damage in Grand Forks, B.C. has forced the cancellation of the city's annual baseball festival.

The Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament has been a summer fixture since 1968

The disastrous flooding in Grand Forks, B.C. is forcing officials to call off the city's famous international baseball tournament. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Ever since 1968, the crack of baseball bats and the call of strikes have been familiar sounds in Grand Forks, B.C.

But this year it wasn't just umpires making a difficult call.

Due to flooding, officials have decided to cancel the 2018 Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament and event which has attracts professional baseball teams from all over the world.

The tournament is a significant economic boon for the city of roughly 4,000 as it attracts large crowds from all over North America

In the past, teams from far-flung places such as Australia, China, Taiwan and Japan have made the trek to Grand Forks to compete. 

"It was incredibly difficult," said tournament secretary Kendra Begg of the decision to cancel the tournament, which was set to run from June 26 to July 2.

"There were a lot of factors at play and we had to break it down to facts and structure."

One of those factors is the damage recent flooding has wrought on businesses and hotels in the city.

Begg said preparing for the tournament takes months of work.

Flood damage

Tournament officials say they don't have enough time to get everything ready — such as baseball diamond fencing, bleacher set up, booking accommodations — because the flooding has put things far behind schedule this year.

In a statement, the tournament committee also said there is a lack accommodations for teams and spectators due to the widespread damage.

Also, the tournament is organized by volunteers — many of whom are tired from fighting floods.

"The devastation and destruction occurred a couple of weeks ago and it was terrible," said tournament coordinator Steve Boutang.

"A lot of people have suffered tremendous loss. It's a tough time right now in Grand Forks."

Boutang said the baseball tournament has been a summer fixture in the city.

"It provides a lot of income and a lot of business to local economy."

With files from All Points West