Greater Victoria's fractured municipalities must take the blame for losing the city a chance for a major sports event - Ironman Canada.
Ironman is a long-distance triathlon that tests recreational and elite athletes with a 3.9-kilometre swim, 180-kilometre bike ride and 42.2-kilometre run. For 30 years, Ironman Canada has been held in Penticton, attracting about 2,000 competitors every summer.
When Penticton suddenly decided this year to stop hosting the race, groups in other cities, including Victoria, rushed to put in bids before the Oct. 10 deadline.
For cities like Whistler and Kelowna, that meant mapping out a route and selling it to the Ironman organizers.
For Victoria, it meant mapping out a course and getting the approval of 10 of the region's 13 municipalities. Negotiating permits with police and municipal officials in one municipality is time-consuming. Doing it for 10 is a major headache.
This time, the headache was too big and the deadline was too close.
"The World Triathlon Corporation told us they did not have confidence we could get the permit approvals from 10 municipalities in the time-frame the corporation required," Hugh MacDonald, executive director of SportHost Victoria, said. When the corporation made up its short list, Victoria got chopped.
And it wasn't because the Ironman folks disliked the rest of Victoria's offering.
"Our venue and our course were given the highest rating," MacDonald said.
Victoria is a great place for a race. Just ask the people who flock to the city to run in the Times Colonist 10K or the Goodlife Fitness Victoria Marathon, which is coming up on Sunday. Runner's World magazine listed Victoria's as one of the top-10 destination marathons in North America. Ryder Hesjedal's Tour de Victoria cycling event successfully negotiated the municipal maze to offer up to 140 kilometres of riding to 1,700 participants in its second year.
Triathlon B.C. lists eight triathlons in Greater Victoria this year, so we have the expertise and the experience to put on major competitions.
Victoria is home to Simon Whitfield, who almost singlehandedly turned triathlon into a household word with his gold-medal finish at the Sydney Olympics. Victoria's Lori Bowden and Peter Reid won the world Ironman championship in Hawaii, perhaps the toughest and certainly the most prestigious Ironman race.
Given the races and the athletes who train here, Victoria has a strong claim to being the triathlon capital of Canada. Ironman would be a natural addition.
Those who see it as just another roadblock on a Sunday morning are not likely to be in favour, and it is time for a co-ordinated look at how many races take up our roads and tax the patience of residents. Asking the people in one area, such as James Bay, to bear the burden of yet another day trapped in their driveways is unfair.
But any broad examination of road disruptions in the region is hampered by the same situation that killed the Ironman bid: 13 municipalities.
Greater Victoria's balkanized governments already cost taxpayers in inefficiency and duplication. The loss of a national sports event is yet another price they pay for this short-sighted system.
© Copyright 2013