Why the cycling races left Burlington

Vote on city’s contribution May 24, 7pm, City Hall

I do not support providing any funding for this event, given most of it will be held outside Burlington
I do not support providing any funding for this event, given most of it will be held outside Burlington

The Canadian National Cycling Championship races slated for Burlington in June and July – including the prestigious “criterium” race through downtown Burlington July 1 – have been pulled by the organizer.

The criterium will be held in Toronto. Two other races will be held in Belfountain. Of the remaining two races, only one is fully in Burlington, running through Aldershot along Snake/York/Plains/Waterdown roads. The other cuts through Milton, by Rattlesnake Point.

The organizer cited the high cost of policing for moving the races. These costs, however, have been known for months. In addition, last summer the city pledged $30,000 for each of two years, and the Burlington Hotel Association pledged $20,000 each of two years to hold the races here, which would have contributed significantly toward paying policing costs.

After the races were pulled, both the the city and the hotel association reduced their funding to $10,000 each.

Though the police are taking the heat for what’s happened, the reality is that this event has been troubled from the beginning, with the organizer failing to meet deadlines and complete expected tasks. These have all been publicly documented in briefings to the city’s Community Services Committee.

Did city staff cause undue red tape? I asked that question myself, and discovered the opposite is true – our staff spent hundreds of hours trying to work with the organizer to iron out the kinks.

Everyone at City Hall wanted this event to be successful, and didn’t want to pull the plug too soon, even though the writing seemed to be on the wall months ago that this wasn’t meant to be. That’s not through a lack of effort on the city’s part.

My take: It’s a shame that the races won’t be held here, but it’s better to take a pass than risk an event cobbled together at the last minute when public safety is involved. I do not support providing any funding for this event, given most of it will be held outside Burlington, and the remaining races are not the commitment the organizer made to us to get the initial funding. Further, there are many other worthy sporting events held in Burlington that get no city money.

What do you think? Should the city contribute to this project? Leave a comment below.

Written by Marianne Meed Ward

I was inspired to seek public office because I believe, like so many of you, “I can do something about that” on the issues we face. As councilor, my role is to take a stand on what’s best for residents and go to bat for it. Pushback is inevitable from those who don’t have the community’s interests at heart. I will stand with you and for you, to achieve the best interests of our city, without caving to unacceptable compromise in the name of consensus.

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