Details about why the Canadian road championships were unexpectedly moved are beginning to emerge. The city of Kamloops says a ‘significant budget shortfall’ is the reason the Canadian road championships had to be moved from the B.C. city as reported by Kamloops This Week. Kamloops was scheduled to host the elite, under-23, junior and paracycling events June 21 to 24 but Saguenay will now host the championships on the same days. Cycling Canada announced the change last week citing lack of anticipated municipal funding and logistical constraints.
Kamloops race organizer Travis McKenzie that the committee faced a “significant budget shortfall” and faced problems with the proposed time trial course on Paul Lake Road which would have required a full road closure the ministry of transportation wasn’t eager to allow.
When Kamloops last hosted the event in 2004, Tim Hortons was a major sponsor. That year Gord Fraser and Lyne Bessette earned the elite titles. Race organizer McKenzie said that the organization committees for championships now have more difficulty securing money to finance hosting Cycling Canada events. He explained that the race organizing committees are now only eligible for a small subsidy from the sale of naming rights and presenting sponsors.
“This places more emphasis on the organizing committee to seek financial and in-kind support from the host city,” McKenzie explained. “The understanding is that cities and local businesses will benefit from hosting national level events through hotel room nights, people eating out in restaurants and exposure to a national audience through event coverage and marketing.”
The race organizers had put in funding requests to the city but business operations and event supervisor for Kamloops Sean Smith said what they needed far exceeded what the city had to offer for the national championships.
“They were looking for us to cover the majority of expenses in one way or another and at this point, I have no idea what that would have totalled,” Smith said to Kamloops This Week. “I know the traffic control plan would have been massive just on its own.”
The city does offer funding to sporting events but the organizers reportedly wanted the city to cover costs ranging from security and traffic control to portable washroom facilities on the course.
“Typically, events of this nature come along with major sponsorship opportunities to allow the private sector to support,” Smith said.
For the past two years Ottawa has hosted the national roand championships in Tunney’s Pasture. Before that they were held in Beauce and organized by those responsible for the UCI stage race. Saguenay has hosted the Grand Prix Cyclistes de Saguenay a UCI junior race past years but the dates of a G7 summit conflicted with the event meaning adequate security would not have been possible. That opened it up for Saguenay to take on the responsibility from Kamloops to host the championships.
Local administrators were critical of the handling of the event by the race organizers. “I think it needs to be made clear that the city of Kamloops did not bid on this event or pursue it in any way. This was an event that was brought to the city by an event organizer to see if they could do it here in Kamloops,” said Kamloops sports council executive member Henry Pejril. “I did try on numerous occasions to get budget information from them to try to determine what could be offset using local resources but they weren’t very forthcoming.”