Letters: Triathlon risky business

Shirley resident unhappy with road closure during Sooke triathlon

The inconvenient truth about holding the triathlon in Shirley is that it is dangerous to do so.

Unlike Sooke or Otter Point our local fire department has to respond to any emergency call out by using the same highway where the event is held. We have no other routes available to us. This is unsafe for the race participants, local residents, anyone else on the road and emergency personnel. This is the primary reason why Shirley is an inappropriate venue for this event.

I was one of the Shirley firefighters who responded to the emergency call out in the middle of the triathlon in 2011. Mr. Mottershead, the only clenched fists I had were on the steering wheel of the fire engine I was driving down 12 kms of narrow winding highway which was dangerously crowded with bike racers on both sides of the road.

Holding the triathlon in Shirley and using the only available emergency access road means that in the event of an emergency call out:

1. The response time for emergency crews to get to a local medical emergency or structure fire will be longer when every second of delay counts in trying to prevent a tragedy;

2. It creates more difficult conditions for emergency personnel with increased risk of harm to race participants, other drivers using the road; fire department vehicles and the risk of greater liability for the local fire department;

3. The alternating lane openings putting traffic on the road while the race is still taking place increases all of these risks even more.

While some might want to pursue the hypothetical economic benefits of tourism, it should not be at the cost of greater risk to the residents of Shirley.

The triathlon was highly successful in its first four years without being located in Shirley.

Luckily there were no emergencies this year; but in future years, the known risks of holding this event in Shirley are just not worth the hypothetical benefits. Now is time to acknowledge this inconvenient truth, while future events are being planned. Our regional director and local fire commission should now insist that the race organizers relocate this event somewhere else where local residents are not put at increased risk just to promote tourism.

Guy McDannold

Shirley