Posted by Editor on 03/19/02
2002 Road Nationals
We have learned that the plan to hold the Road Nationals in London, Ontario has run into a major, and potentially fatal roadblock.
Initial plans to hold the Nationals in Hamilton, as a lead up to the 2003 Worlds, were abandoned in the fall, when it became obvious that the Worlds infrastructure and funding would not be in place in time to produce the Nationals.
The CCA began searching for a replacement site, and initially it appeared that Edmonton would be an option. However, there was a snag: to obtain city funding the event had to be held in conjunction with Canada Day celebrations. Unfortunately, that put them in conflict with a World Cup already being held in Canada - not a good idea to have your marquee event overshadowed by a bigger event...
After a lot of negotiation, the Edmonton location was dropped, and an idea was floated that it might be possible to have the Nationals in London. This made a lot of sense - the city had run an extremely successful Canada Summer Games last year, had a strong and experienced volunteer base, had timing equipment, and the provincial association supported the plan.
So, the local organizing committee, with the support of the CCA, OCA and sponsor Tim Hortons went forward with the idea.
Everything looked good at this point, with only some bureaucratic paperwork to deal with at City Hall. After all, wouldn't London want to capitalize on the goodwill and publicity it had developed from hosting the Games?
Well, it turns out that some people do not want to have anything to do with hosting a major sporting event, especially one that involves shutting down a large number of streets and impacting local businesses. This group has a very strong and influential advocate in the form of Gordon Hume, a City Councillor and member of the Board of Control for the City of London.
"There are a number of troubling points (with this event)." said Councillor Hume in a telephone interview.
"The Friday/Saturday race dates involve closing a subdivision and businesses in the Byron area. There are limited access points, and the cost to the city will be quite high. In my judgement, the detriments outweigh the benefits at this time."
Mr Hume said that businesses in the Byron area (the location of the road races at the Canada Summer Games) lost a lot of money during the Games. "The impact on the business community in Byron was extraordinary. Also, the financial impact on the City could possibly be as high as $100,000."
Part of the problem appears to be that the choice of location will have a severe impact on local residents and businesses. Mr Hume himself suggested that there might be more chance of approval if the races were moved to outlying regions, such as Lambeth or Westminster. He also did not seem to realize that road closures would not be absolute.
Currently, Tourism London is studying the proposal, and will report back to the Community & Protective Services Committee (of which Mr Hume is a member) on March 25th. Two days later the Community & Protective Services Committee will report to the Board of Control, who will in turn take it to the City Council on April 2nd.
At this point, Mr Hume appears to be adamantly opposed to holding the Nationals in London - at least in the format that has currently been presented to the city.
We spoke with staff at the CCA, who indicated that they would be in touch with Mr Hume and other members of the city administration to see if alternate arrangements could be made.
What can you do? Well, possibly by sending an e-mail or fax requesting that the City of London hold the Nationals, and by detailing the amount of money you expect to contribute to the local economy during your stay, you can help encourage them. We urge you to remember that letters should respect the decision the City Councillors are forced to make, and should not be threatening or abusive. Be sure to include your name and address.
E-mail: Tourism London
Controller W. Russ Monteith
Controller W. Russ Monteith
Controller Gordon D. Hume
Controller W. J. Polhill
Controller Joseph B. Swan
Fax: (519) 661-4892
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