Vernon Ironman bid gains support

Thousands of athletes could be making a splash into Kalamalka Lake next year, if Vernon decides to submit a bid for Ironman.

Thousands of athletes could be making a splash into Kalamalka Lake next year, if Vernon decides to submit a bid for Ironman.

Coldstream (home to the lake which is identified as a potential swimming route for Ironman) has jumped on board with its support for the triathlon.

“Kalamalka Lake is a preferred swimming route and all three options include Coldstream in it,” said Kim Flick, Vernon’s planning and building services manager.

As part of its bid, Vernon has included three potential route options. The first option includes a Kal loop swim; transition at the Kalavista boat launch parking lot; bike around Wood Lake, to Predator Ridge and Swan Lake; transition at MacDonald Park then a run out to Kekuli Bay and ending at Polson Park.

“These routes aren’t set in stone, they are the starting point for discussion,” said Flick.

But Vernon politicians still must decide if they even want to host the event. Vernon council will make a decision on whether to submit a bid at special meeting Friday afternoon.

Then it will be up to the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), which owns the Ironman brand, to choose the next host community for the August 2013 event. That decision is expected to be announced Oct. 10 at Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

While Coldstream has lent Vernon its support behind a bid, it isn’t prepared to commit to assisting with costs and logistics for the event just yet.

“Unfortunately I don’t think we have as much information as we need,” said Coun. Pat Cochrane, at a special meeting Monday.

Mayor Jim Garlick added: “There’s a lot of unanswered questions that have to be worked out down the road.”

Coun. Gyula Kiss is not in favour of sending a letter of support with Vernon’s bid.

“I’m not sure if we have a budget for such an event,” said Kiss, noting all the staff time that would be needed to organize the event.

And he isn’t the only one. Enderby politicians aren’t throwing their support behind Vernon just yet either.

While Ironman is expected to generate an economic impact of $12 million per year, Coldstream Coun. Doug Dirk points out that most of that will benefit Vernon.

“The lion’s share of the benefits goes to businesses that are not run in Coldstream.”

Coldstream politicians had also hoped to have more details, particularly on the costs associated with hosting Ironman. But those numbers are being kept confidential by City of Vernon staff.

“It is our strong preference that those numbers be kept confidential,” said Flick, admitting that there are hard costs that go with hosting Ironman, but there are also many benefits, including a minimum $50,000 from WTC for non-profits assisting with Ironman and for community infrastructure.

Since this is a competitive bid for Ironman, with neighbouring communities such as Kelowna also bidding, Flick says details of costs will only be released if Vernon decides to submit a bid and if it is successful.

Vernon would absorb the marketing fees but staff contributions from involved communities would be required.

Still, there are hesitations about the event, including concerns about the toll such an event could have on local residents.

“You would be closing Kal Road for a good portion of the day which would literally isolate a good portion of Coldstream residents,” said Cochrane.

Flick says routes with the least impact on area residents would be chosen, as there is no intent to burden communities.

If Vernon decides to submit its bid, city staff are confident that the assets of the area, including its beauty, will make it stand out as a preferred site for Ironman 2013 and into the future.

“Without question, we have the ability to host an event like this,” said Jefferson, noting that WTC contacted Vernon directly, while other communities are submitting bids uninvited.