Letters: Sad and regrettable news

Decision to cancel the triathlon was short-sighted

Dear Mayor Milne, Sooke council and CRD JdF director Mike Hicks:

After receiving the announcement of the  Subaru Sooke Triathlon cancellation, the Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce received numerous phone calls, email and social media comments from members and non-members.

The general consensus was the decision to end the triathlon is extremely shortsighted.

People (tourists and athletes) from all over the world came to Sooke to participate in this event and marveled at the beauty, friendly people (300 volunteers), and how a community the size of Sooke was able to support an event of this magnitude. The triathlon had gained tremendous momentum over the past six years and brought international exposure and recognition to the Sooke region. It reached a very wide audience and showcased the area in ways that you would otherwise need thousands and thousands of dollars to accomplish.

Although the District of Sooke and council supported this event, with a $25,000 investment, we received disappointing news from our mayor regarding the cancellation.

With all due respect, if council truly supported this event, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan would not be hosting our triathlon in 2013. The District of Sooke, it seems, did not go to any extra measures when the triathlon was in jeopardy by the Juan de Fuca director and the select few naysayers who were “inconvenienced” for four hours on a Sunday, one day of the year,  expressing community safety issues as their argument… despite the fact the roads were not completely closed with windows of opportunity (periodic openings) and access still permissable during the race.

The benefits of having the triathlon in Sooke provided tangible and immediate revenues for numerous Sooke region businesses. Figures from the Prestige Hotel indicate a loss of $36,500 (242 room nights) for the 2013 event cancelled – equivalent to one full-time position. Another smaller business saw an increase of 10 to 15 per cent to their business during the 2012 triathlon. These are just two businesses, now multiply that by dozens.

There has been tremendous community benefits as shown through the incredible amount of local volunteerism involved in the triathlon, as well as community spirit shown by the family/kids race held in Sooke around the triathlon. Further benefit that helps the Sooke region over the long term is the follow up with tourism and potential economic investments to the area from those that experienced the event in person or via the exposure through the tremendous TV coverage. Over time, this equates to millions of dollars.

The tone this has set is one which has become very familiar to locals and outside stakeholders that have an interest in doing something in Sooke. We are all for progress, as long as it doesn’t include change or short term inconvenience. Let’s hope that we are able to overcome this short sightedness and come up with something as beneficial to our community before it’s too late.

Kari Osselton

Sooke Region Chamber of Commerce

Executive Director