The Ironman race, which brought 2,500 athletes to the Sea to Sky region in August, cost businesses in the community of Pemberton thousands of dollars in wages and lost revenue, according to a village councillor who made an informal survey of local stores and restaurants.
Alan Leblanc reported his findings to his colleagues on the Village of Pemberton council at their regular meeting of Sept. 3.
He said he would like to see some changes to ensure that local businesses are less negatively impacted by Ironman, which will take place in the region for the next four years. There were major road closures for hours on the day of the Aug. 25 race as the biking leg went through the village.
"I talked to 13 businesses and shops that were closed and seven businesses that were open, and the consensus was that they were at least two-thirds down in business," Leblanc said.
"The closed businesses and the wages lost I estimated it was around $80,000. The two Pemberton golf courses were down $25,000 each, for a total of $50,000.
Despite this, Leblanc said he thought Ironman and events like it are good for Pemberton.
"It shows our beautiful valley and I'm pleased to share it with people," he said, but he wanted a greater infrastructure to be put in place to accommodate cyclists as biking tours of the region continue to grow and to ensure safety.
"If we're going to become a biking mecca we need the infrastructure."
Councillor Ted Craddock noted that the amount lost to Pemberton in a day was similar to the amount that Whistler wanted to charge Pembertonians to use the resort's recreation facilities as non-residents. He said a conversation with their peers at the Resort Municipality of Whistler was necessary.
Mayor Jordan Sturdy said he was looking forward to receiving statistics about visitor uses and expenditures in the region in order to determine the actual impact.
One possibility for a solution was the installation of paved bike paths off-highway, built using government gas tax money. Sturdy added that he would like to see an estimate for establishing bike lanes.
MLA Sturdy to remain as Pemberton mayor until 2014
Mayor Jordon Sturdy, elected MLA for West Vancouver-Sea to Sky in May, confirmed he intended to stay on at Pemberton council until the next municipal elections in 2014.
"I don't think it's a big surprise," Sturdy said.
He said he had several initiatives that he wanted to see to the end of his mayoral term. Recreation, administration and capital works, governance and boundaries, festivals and events, infrastructure and bridges, the airport, water infrastructure, community power and agriculture were some of the outstanding priorities named by Sturdy.
"An election this October and an election the following October is not, I feel, in the community's interest," he said.
"I've been in this role since 2005 and over that time we have recruited a highly effective staff, built capacity in all departments, and... I think the people we have at this (council) table right now are cohesive, supportive and positive, while not necessarily agreeing on all aspects."
Lil'wat Nation to set up on-reserve taxation
Graham Haywood, reserve land manager for the Lil'wat Nation, spoke to Pemberton Council to discuss the on-reserve property taxation laws the Nation seeking to establish.
He explained the finer details of the move, which Canadian first nations are entitled to establish with community support. The Lil'wat has been working with the First Nations Tax Commission under the federal Fiscal Management Act.
Haywood said the move would only impact one potential taxpayer, Telus, whose lines run through the community. It would also potentially impact the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District, which already receives revenue from Telus for the lines, if assessments are impacted.
All reserve members would be exempt from taxation, Haywood added, and the laws would only apply to reserve lands.
Daniel Sailland, Pemberton's chief administrative officer, said the village had received notice of this several months ago.
"This is a framework that we're establishing for future potential growth on the reserve to give potential investors certainty," Haywood told council.