Councillors split on giving cash to Tour of Alberta cycling event; motion lost

In a split 4-3 decision, Sylvan Lake councillors voted against contributing financially

In a split 4-3 decision, Sylvan Lake councillors voted against contributing financially to the premier Tour of Alberta cycling event in September.

That may mean the event bypasses Sylvan Lake, according to Ron Lebsack, director of community services.

“My impression is if there’s no cash they wouldn’t be going through Sylvan Lake, that’s my own gut feeling,” he told councillors during their debate June 9.

The organizing committee for the Central Alberta leg of the race had asked for a cash contribution of $30,000 as well as provision of in-kind resources for road cleaning and road closures.

Councillor Megan Chernoff suggested a $10,000 cash contribution. “Their money request didn’t make sense with what we’ve given away in other Recreation, Arts and Culture grants,” she said.

Describing the event as a “very brief ride through Sylvan Lake”, councillor Jas Payne said he could see a larger donation if the community was a start or end point. Then there would be an economic benefit.

“I don’t support it. I don’t see the benefit other than watching bikes go by. I don’t see a sustaining, lasting benefit to Sylvan Lake. I think $10,000 could go a long way to other programs.”

The Town of Innisfail, which is the start point, has agreed to contribute $20,000 to the event.

Councillor Dale Plante wasn’t in favour of providing any cash. “I see minimal benefit to Sylvan Lake.”

“I have the same feeling,” said Councillor Chris Lust. “For them to spend 45 minutes in our community, $30,000 for the privilege of coming to our community, I feel that’s hard to take. I don’t think they provided information to show there is value to us.”

Councillor Matt Prete said, “I wasn’t prepared to swallow $30,000.” But he added it does promote fitness and he believes it is something that could be fairly exciting to see. He suggested supporting it for a year and evaluating the idea. “If Innisfail is giving $20,000 for the start, I can’t see giving any more than $10,000 for a ride through.”

Mayor Sean McIntyre noted it would require a mid-year budget adjustment “of a considerable size that would impact the community greatly”. He was also concerned about the equity of giving a donation to an organization outside the community when ongoing events in the community wouldn’t have the same opportunity.

Voting in favour of contributing $10,000 plus in-kind resources were Prete, Chernoff and Councillor Graham Parsons. Voting against the motion were Plante, McIntyre, Lust and Payne.