It appears Ironman Canada will be returning to the Okanagan.
On Tuesday, Penticton city council agreed to direct city staff to restart contract talks with Ironman Canada.
For 30 years, starting in 1983, the iconic triathlon race was held in the South Okanagan, attracting thousands of athletes. Yet, in 2012, Penticton decided to part ways with Ironman Canada. The city has held various triathlon races since then but none as popular as the one put on by Ironman Canada.
During council deliberations, Penticton mayor John Vassilaki admitted “he was one of the members that put Ironman’s demise in place, six or seven years ago, whenever it was.”
WATCH (June 26, 2017): Pemberton residents opposed return of the Ironman triathlon
Vassilaki said at that time, “it was the right thing for city council to do because of the circumstances.” But he then stated “times change.”
“Now what we’re trying to do, and what city staff is going to be negotiating, is for the future, economic stability of the City of Penticton. And we need to bring this event back into the community, for all the economic reasons that people have been speaking of over the years.”
He added “I’m probably one of the happiest people around this table today having this discussion.”
Council voted unanimously in favour of directing city staff to start negotiations.
“That’s a historical day for Penticton,” Vassilaki said of the voting while residents clapped in support of council’s decision.
According to the staff report, Penticton became internationally known for its Ironman race, a single-loop long-distance course. The report said the race generated significant economic, social and community impacts.
The Ironman proposal would be a five-year contract spanning from 2020 to 2024 that would see the race take place on the last weekend of August with a projected attendance of 2,600 athletes. The race would be a traditional, single-loop full-distance Ironman triathlon.
WATCH (July 30, 2017): Ironman Canada in Whistler
The price tag of hosting the event comes with an estimated annual financial commitment of $410,000.
Specifically, the city said the annual fee will be $150,000 and that host city services will cost $513,000 for a total of $663,000. However, it expects to knock off $253,000 from sponsorships and cost savings for a total of $410,000.
Following its split with Penticton, Ironman Canada moved to Whistler.
According to the city council agenda, Ironman Canada events in Whistler are estimated to have generated $42 million in economic activity from 2012 to 2016, and the 2017 event alone had a direct economic impact of $11.5 million to Whistler’s economy.
WATCH BELOW (Aired July 27, 2014): Whistler hosts Ironman competition
City staff said discussions with Ironman Canada began earlier this year.
According to city staff, Penticton’s annual race started in 1983 with 25 participants. Staff said 22 finished the first race and that there was only one female participant.
The race grew dramatically over the years, increasing to 1,000 athletes within the first decade, and attendance was capped at 2,500 by 2012.