Access in and out of Sylvan will be “locked down” during cycling race

The Tour of Alberta, Canada’s largest professional cycling stage race, will visit Sylvan Lake Sept. 4.

The Tour of Alberta, Canada’s largest professional cycling stage race, will visit Sylvan Lake Sept. 4.

Fifteen 8-man teams are expected to compete and will be supported by about 120 vehicles.

During about an hour and a half just after noon that day, roads around Sylvan Lake used by the racers will be “locked down” meaning no vehicles will be allowed in or out of town, RCMP S/Sgt. Gary Rhodes told Sylvan Lake councillors Monday night.

Asked about the effect on businesses, he told councillors to consider the ‘track’ as a ring road around town. Businesses inside that ring can still function and vehicles can move within town. On roads leading into town, traffic will be directed away from the race route during the short time period.

All vehicles on the route will need to be moved or towed prior to the race and the route cleaned.

Cyclists will come north on Highway 781, go west on Highway 11 to 60th Street, then north to Lakeshore Drive. Heading east they’ll travel to Highway 20 at the roundabout, turn south to Memorial Trail, then west to 60th Street taking the same route back to the roundabout before heading north on Highway 20 to Aspelund Road.

Rhodes said cyclists will reach speeds of up to 100 kmh, particularly on the sprint stage along Memorial Drive. Support vehicles will be travelling at the same speeds.

Because of that, more than 50 intersections will be closed completely during the race. Barriers will be erected at all locations. At major intersections, he said RCMP, firefighters and peace officers will be involved. At other intersections, town staff and volunteers will be needed to make sure nobody gets in the way of the speeding cyclists and vehicles. Besides the intersections, things such as parking lots and alleys will need to be blocked to prevent pedestrians or vehicles from crossing the course.

Noting some of the racers may lap others, the said, “the whole route is going to be busy so we decided to close down the whole route”.

Rhodes predicted at least 100 staff and volunteers may be required.

Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer, said the impact on town staff will be “quite significant” but since it’s a normal workday there should be no overtime. She added there are some people who are very enthusiastic and will assist in recruiting volunteers.

Speaking about the effect on business, she said, “We think most business will be deferred not lost. This will attract people. It will be an excellent place to watch the race,” she added.

Councillor Graham Parsons added, “I think businesses will welcome the attention.”

Rhodes also outlined the procedure in case there’s an emergency requiring fire, police or ambulances to cross the route.

Councillors voted to support the event with town resources as outlined.