Area C director Susie Gimse highlighted to the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) board the positive vibe around the Pemberton area for Sunday’s (Aug. 25) Ironman Canada triathlon and Slow Food Cycle Sunday the weekend prior.
During Monday’s (Aug. 26) board meeting, Gimse said the atmosphere was great in the town during Ironman, but noted the very quiet streets in the hours leading up to it due to the Highway 99 and Pemberton Meadows Road closures.
“There was no traffic in the Village of Pemberton and the residents had to either stay at home or leave very early in the morning to come home late,” said Gimse.
“The town was bare, the businesses were closed. I think we need to be looking to the Chamber (of Commerce) to get an analysis in terms of what the financial impact was on the economic development of the town.”
Pemberton director Ted Craddock noted that while Highway 99 had opened by 4:30 p.m., the drive from Pemberton to Base II in Whistler took more than two hours.
“The highway wasn't closed just for the six hours, the highway was basically inoperable for eight hours from the volume of cars backed up,” he said.
More than 4,000 people showed up for Slow Food Cycle Sunday on Aug. 18, with visitors arriving mostly from out-of-region for the event. But Pemberton Meadows Road remaining open for the event is starting to draw concern.
“I heard from both the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure and the RCMP that they are concerned about the sheer volume and the fact that the road is still open,” said Gimse.
“They feel that there will need to be some changes made for next year.”
The organizers of the Slow Food Cycle have stated they recognize changes need to be made but are unsure about what the changes will look like. The chief concerns were mainly that groups of cyclists were not moving over for vehicles, and that few cyclists were wearing helmets.
“There are some things that need to be sorted out, but if you want to talk about economic development, a lot of money was left in the village and the valley that weekend,” said Gimse.
The RCMP have reported that the fatal truck accident that took place on the road during Slow Food Cycle Sunday was not caused by the event and the crash remains under investigation.
Gliders OK for landing
The West Coast Soaring Club (WCSC) will soon be able to land at the Pemberton Meadows Fields after gaining support from the SLRD board Monday, but under strict conditions.
The landing area will be for solo recreational use and only be available to WCSC members that have signed a waiver. Users must also have $5 million in third-party liability insurance coverage through the Hangliding and Paragliding Association of Canada.
The site conditions for landing will also be dictated by the “five or less rule,” which states that if more than five people not engaged with paragliding activity are using the field, the pilot must land elsewhere. Pilots will also be unable to land if there is maintenance work being carried out on the field.
At last month’s board meeting the insurance and liability concerns — as well as the lack of staff control over mixed use of the field — were met with a recommendation to not allow the WCSC to land at the site at all. However, the board had directed staff to draft a one-year use agreement after hearing from a WCSC delegation.
The Pemberton Grizzlies football team had requested to erect its removable goalposts for the length of its season but the SLRD made an agreement that the posts be removed after every game to keep the field safer for paragliders. The WCSC would also need to erect signage warning other field users that paragliders land in the area.