Red Deer is gearing up to once again be included in September’s Tour of Alberta, City council heard this week.
On Sept. 4th, Red Deer will be the host finish community for Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour of Alberta. Building off of the success of last year’s inaugural event, this year’s event anticipates similar international and national media attention.
Council heard the race and festival will help to showcase Red Deer and Central Alberta and “Contribute to the vitality of our downtown and local businesses.”
George Berry, chair of the Tour of Alberta local organization committee, said the is a six-stage race, starting in Calgary on Sept. 2 and ending in Edmonton on Sept. 7th.
The event landed extensive international and national coverage and it was estimated the gross economic activity for the event in its entirety was $24 million, according to council agenda notes.
“We are looking at using the same route we did last year – it worked out really well,” he said. “Spectators could really see some exciting racing coming along.”
The recommendation put forward to council was the approve a hosting rights fee, in-kind City services and the ‘recommended’ City services for a total of $154,000, which council ultimately agreed to support eight to one, with Councillor Tanya Handley voting against it citing some financial concerns related to the event.
She pointed to the money committed to the bid for the 2019 Winter Games, and felt council was spreading itself quite thin.
She also added it would be preferable to see major sports sponsors step forward with support as well.
“As it stands right now, unless someone comes up with some fantastic arguments for me, I can’t support the expenditure of this money,” she said, adding it didn’t seem fair to have to say no to some locally-organized events while supporting an internationally-recognized event to a significant degree.
“Well I understand it has economic impacts, and I remember the buzz from last year and how exciting it was, and I remember people talking about it. That’s where this is really hard, because I’m weighing both sides of it.”
Councillor Lawrence Lee, while supportive of the event, also pointed out that planning for it would be preferable further in advance, and that it would be helpful to know what the economic impact would ultimately be in more formal terms.
Meanwhile, many councillors also indicated the positive impact the event brings to the community.
“I will be supporting it – of course, if it was a lesser amount it would make it more palatable,” said Councillor Dianne Wyntjes.
Councillor Lynne Mulder said that because of the event’s national and international spread, it’s very important to the City, “In terms of pursuing economic development, and I think it’s a great opportunity for our community.”