June 26, 2017 11:14 pm
Updated: June 27, 2017 12:22 am

Most Pemberton residents oppose return of Ironman Whistler race: survey

Mon, Jun 26: While it was pitched as an economic boost for the local economy, Pemberton residents say it's frustrating them and all the upsides go to Whistler. Grace Ke reports.

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The Ironman Whistler race draws hundreds of athletes and thousands of spectators each year, but residents in nearby Pemberton say the headaches of hosting the grueling race far outweigh the benefits.

The Village of Pemberton recently conducted a survey that asked residents how they felt about the triathlon. Seventy-six per cent said the Ironman Canada event does not provide benefits to the community and less than half said they still wouldn’t support the event even if Ironman provided a small benefit, legacy or donation.

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“We’re trying to the put the best decision together possible and we’ll be having a special council meeting tomorrow morning to discuss it further,” Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman said.

Grimm’s Gourmet & Deli is one of several Pemberton businesses that closes its doors on race day.

“They’re a billion-dollar corporation,” Mark Mendonca of Grimm’s Deli said. “We’re just this little, tiny company trying to make it work. The real people that are being hurt are the employees.”

Kosta De of the Pemberton Hotel said the event is “not that busy for us because the roads get blocked right in front of the hotel.

“The liquor store and the hotel aren’t doing that well, to be honest,” he said.

Parts of Highway 99 and the main road in Pemberton are shut down as the cycling portion of the triathlon cuts through the village. Residents in one stretch can’t even leave their driveways during the race.

The organization is addressing cycling safety concerns with signs and educational videos.

Roads, however, will remain closed in both directions for the race.

“A full road closure is what’s safest not only for the athletes but for the local residents,” Ironman Senior Regional Director Keats McGonigal said.

This is the last year of Ironman’s five-year contract with Whistler Organizing Committee. Negotiations are underway for a new deal.

– With files from Grace Ke

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