Posted by Editoress on 05/14/11
Over the past six months we have had multiple conversations with Road Nationals race director Craig Fagan about ongoing concerns regarding policing services and complaints by a few locals about the Road Nationals in Burlington, Ontario, and how they are effectively destroying the Nationals program.
Early on, Fagan told us that the police were resisting the entire project, due to concerns over road closures and potential traffic delays that could lead to complaints from residents and issues of safety. As the City Council and local business association got onside with the event, police had to begin planning for the event, and the budgets they submitted skyrocketed - from $60,000-$70,000 up to $110,000.
This has resulted in the Nationals organizers looking for alternative venues for some of the events, with all of the time trials moved to the Belfountain region, north of Toronto, and the Criterium Championship moved to Toronto, to be run in conjunction with the CHIN Picnic. This will leave only the road races for the Burlington area, and even there, there is a problem, with a local strawberry farm complaining that it will shut down business for them for a day (the Inside Halton story can be found here).
The reduction of events in the Burlington area has had the added effect of causing Burlington city staff and the business association questioning the value of supporting the Nationals (monetarily), since many of the events have left the region.
The removal of many of the events from the region has not resulted in a significant reduction for police services; Fagan says that he is still facing estimated costs in the region of $70,000. The police response is that this is what they feel is necessary to provide appropriate security - an argument that it is exceedingly difficult to refute, as the police well know.
A local article on the situation can be found here. The Burlington Council memorandum on the situation can be found here
With the Nationals a little over a month away, the situation is getting critical, and it appears that NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) will once again triumph. Given the promotion of the Waterfront Trail through Burlington for tourism, increased interest in cycling for environment and fitness, and the approaching Olympics, this is a sad commentary on the ability of a small group to derail an activity of interest to the majority. If major cities such as Montreal, Quebec and Edmonton can accommodate and welcome cycling events, what makes Burlington so different?
Maybe it is time to start and promote a list of Cycling Unfriendly Cities - Burlington is currently a strong contender for this list.
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