Penticton is home to some pretty major events over the summer.
From Granfondo to Challenge Penticton and now the ITU Multisport World Championships, these events bring thousands of athletes to Penticton every year.
And, yes, many of them do disrupt traffic patterns as some roads are blocked off to allow the competition to proceed. Or, in the case of the Peach City Beach Cruise, to allow for a parade and the stunning display of cars along Lakeshore Drive.
It would be wrong to say Penticton gets nothing in return for giving up the streets for a few days. It’s true the City of Penticton invests thousands of dollars of in-kind support to these events without a direct financial return, but the indirect returns are massive.
The ITU Multisport World Championships organizers say there are 3,300 athletes registered, and each is expected to bring about two supporters with them. That’s close to 10,000 people visiting our community — and spending money.
Like it or not, tourism is a huge driver of Penticton’s economy. Hotels and restaurants are obvious beneficiaries of the numbers of people who come to Penticton to compete or cheer on their favourite athlete.
Ask yourself, when was the last time you took a trip anyplace without spending? Grocery stores, markets, fruit stands, anyone selling a product or service has a chance to benefit.
How many of those visiting competitors are going to return to Penticton for a vacation or to re-locate after getting a taste of what we have to offer? We have heard that exact story before.
Knowing the community is profiting from these events isn’t much comfort to those finding roads to and from their homes blocked for a race. That is where the City of Penticton and the event organizers come in. It is their responsibility to reduce the disruption as much as possible through route planning, timing and well-trained traffic controllers.