Provincial Government: Through-the-streets Race In Nova Scotia Never Had Approval
May 08, 2006
From a press release issued by Cape Breton Festival Of Speed Association:
Province Blocks Road and Cancels The Festival of Speed.
After 12 months of planning and organization with the knowledge and tentative support of the provincial department of tourism as a signature event, the Cape Breton TT Festival of Speed has been cancelled with official news from the Provincial government that the government will not permit the event to happen on the 53km course.
According to Maureen Carroll, the chair of the Cape Breton Festival of Speed Association, “The official word delivered by the province came as a devastating blow and without notice after almost a year of work and official filings for sanctioning and insurance were completed”.
She said, “The province has been well aware of the event and designated it as a Signature Event with no indication that they had fundamental issues beyond the understandable need to pass the public safety requirements which were being organized by a professional technical team and race director. It appears that the process of proper and formal evaluation and communications were flawed within the departments.”
Carroll stated, ”The cancellation news is regrettable and disappointing for all of the volunteer members of the community who have acted in good faith and invested in the development of an event which promised to deliver significant economic return for the region.”
The Cape Breton Festival of Speed was initiated by the Membertou Development Corporation. Under the leadership of Bernd Christmas, Membertou brought forward the opportunity for an international event which offered benefits for the entire Island and province. The Cape Breton Festival of Speed Association was created to operate and manage what had the potential to be a major annual event.
To date there have been 5000 room-nights booked 6 months ahead of the event just on the prospect and rumor it would occur. These advance bookings alone represent a welcome addition to many tourism operators across the Island during what is a slower period in the early fall. The economic impact has been forecast to reach $15 million dollars. The event had the support of the municipality and federal government and the economic development agencies on Cape Breton Island along with enthusiastic participation of community groups and organizations that are essential for the staging of an international event.
The TT Race is an international spectacle attracting audiences and visitor interest across North America and Europe including all of the key strategic markets for the Nova Scotia and Canadian Tourism industry. National and international media have been following the planning for the race and many have committed resources to visit Cape Breton Island to cover both the race and the destination.
Carroll said, “As a community based volunteer organization, we are very disappointed to have to cancel the event. The abrupt decision is being forced by the Provincial government in what can only be described as a very heavy-handed manner."
She ended, “The province allowed the time, effort, expectations and investment of the community to continue to build for the best part of an entire year without a formal response from all departments until now.” Community meetings planned for May 6 and 7 along the race course were cancelled.
More, from a press release issued by the Nova Scotia Provincial Government in response to the above:
Race Did Not Have Approval to Proceed
Organizers of the Cape Breton Festival of Speed were told in writing on Nov. 15, 2005 and Feb. 24, 2006 that their race did not have approval to proceed, primarily for safety reasons.
The Cape Breton Festival of Speed, a motor sport racing event based on races on the Isle of Man, UK, was proposed for Sept. 20-24.
Staff from the Department of Transportation and Public Works informed organizers that the Motor Vehicle Act does not support the racing of vehicles on public highways and that the department could not give approval to close roads for the event.
"There have been numerous deaths associated with this event elsewhere in the past," said Angus MacIsaac, Minister of Transportation and Public Works. "Our first priority is to ensure safe access to public roads and highways and this race would put the public and racers at risk of serious injury or death."
Staff from the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, met with organizers again this week to reiterate government's position.
"In spite of being informed of the department's position on the race, organizers continued to plan and promote the event. The news this week should not have come as a surprise," Mr. MacIsaac added.
The proposed race would have taken place on a 53 kilometre route through Port Morien, Birch Grove, and Albert Bridge. The race would have directly affected over 500 residences, two elementary schools, two churches, six cemeteries, numerous small businesses, and many private lanes. It would have required extended road closures and affected travel times to the regional hospital.
"We understand that the organizers have worked hard on this event and that many people are disappointed," said Judy Streatch, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. "We also recognize the potential tourism and economic benefits, but the province had to make safety our top priority in this case. How do you measure economic benefits against even one life lost?"
The event was listed as a signature event in the 2006 Doers and Dreamers Guide and other tourism publications. As a marketing agency, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage does not approve events. The onus is on the organizers to ensure all the necessary permits and approvals are in place.
Because of the early publishing deadlines for the Doers and Dreamers Guide and other tourism publications, the department must often list events that are in the planning stages. Some event changes or cancellations are made every year and they are communicated through all tourism promotional channels.
Ms. Streatch has asked staff to meet with the Festivals and Events Council to review the process for listing signature events.