Support in principle for Vernon to submit a bid to host the 2013 Ironman Canada triathlon has been granted by Regional District of North Okanagan directors.
Lumby Mayor Kevin Acton enthusiastically announced the village is “110 per cent” behind Vernon.
“We’ve seen how contentious issues (Lumby’s failed bid to attract a provincial prison) can attract some growth,” said Acton. “I’m less worried now about the organization knowing that they (WTC) have staff to come put the race on.”
Electoral Area D director Rick Fairbairn said Ironman is “a terrific opportunity” and something the board should endorse.
“We’re poised to do a better job hosting than Kelowna or Kamloops,” laughed Fairbairn.
But it wasn’t unanimous support.
Following a 20-minute presentation on the event by City of Vernon representatives Kevin Poole and Michelle Jefferson Wednesday, Area C BX-Silver Star director Mike Macnabb expressed some concerns.
“I like the presentation, but it’s really light on numbers,” said Macnabb. “The benefits from hosting are not evenly distributed; yes, there would be lots of spin-offs, and, yes, there would be inconveniences to the communities.”
Poole and Jefferson were seeking support for assistance with the costs and logistics of hosting the swim, cycling and run routes in collaboration with the member municipalities.
Vernon would submit three route options, which includes all regional district municipalities being involved in some of the disciplines, save for perhaps Enderby. Only one option has a portion of the bike route going on the outskirts of the western border of Enderby.
The regional district was asked to waive fees relating to parks and facilities rentals.
Staff assistance would be needed to implement a waste management program, which is a requirement from the host World Triathlon Corporation.
Macnabb asked if a franchise cost was associated with the bid.
“I wouldn’t say a franchise cost. More of a marketing contribution cost,” said Poole and, when pushed by Macnabb for a figure, he stated that Penticton’s estimated cost for 2013 – Penticton hosted Ironman Canada for 30 years – was in the ballpark of $75,000.
The WTC said they would put $50,000 through its Ironman Foundation back into the host community.
“They’re a for-profit organization, so where do they make their money?” questioned Macnabb.
Poole and Jefferson said because it’s a tight bid process, they are cautious about releasing any financial figures, and also said such conversations should be held in-camera.
The cities of Kelowna and Kamloops have also announced they will be bidding to host Ironman Canada.
Vernon has never hosted a triathlon of Ironman proportions – 3.86-km swim, 180.25-km bike ride and a 42.2-km run – in its history.
“I’m struggling with this,” said Macnabb.
“Normally we would take this information, digest it and bring it back to another meeting. There’s such a huge time restraint and there are an awful lot of unknowns with this thing.”
Jefferson acknowledged there are challenges to hosting Ironman.
“But it comes with a template,” she said, stating that the WTC has sanctioned 90 Ironman events.
“We’ve got a real compressed time to organize this. The first year would be an interesting year but we wouldn’t go ahead and organize such an event without competency from our partner.
“All we need to do is follow the checklist, dot the Is and cross the Ts.”
The City of Vernon will decide this afternoon at a public meeting at 3 p.m. if it will submit a bid to host Ironman Canada.