A look back at Innisfail’s Tour experience

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If the Town of Olds accepts the Tour of Alberta’s offer to host a start point for the 2016 race, it wouldn’t be the first time that the elite cycling competition took place in this area.

In September 2014, the Town of Innisfail was the starting point for Stage 2 of the race.

Mayor Brian Spiller said the community had a lot of fun, even if there wasn’t much hard data on the economic impact.

“It’s so hard to quantify … to figure out how much actually came back in business into your community or exposure for your community, through that event. But we enjoyed it very much, I’ll tell you that. They put on a great show and we made it an all-day festival in town here,” Spiller said.

The mayor recalled being approached by Tour of Alberta to host the event, which saw 120 cyclists stop in town.

In this case, the cyclists did not lodge in town. Spiller said they had raced the day before in Lethbridge and arrived in Innisfail by the nine o’clock hour. They warmed up and cycled two laps inside town and left by about 11 o’clock.

The rest of the day, streets were closed for the downtown street festival, with corporate sponsors and service clubs serving free food and drinks for those who came out, including students who were let out of school.

So, was it worth it? Maybe back then.

Back then the host rights only cost $20,000, funded from the town’s operating budget, Spiller said.

“We thought we’d give it a go and it worked out quite fine. It wasn’t something we could afford to do every year though, of course,” he said.

The Tour is asking Olds for $100,000 this year.

“At the rate that we paid, I wouldn’t mind if the town did it again sometime in the future, at $20,000,” Spiller said. “At $100,000, I think it would be a very tough sell to our town council and to our citizens too. That ends up being a lot of money.”

jho@olds.greatwest.ca

“It’s so hard to quantify … to figure out how much actually came back in business into your community or exposure for your community, through that event. But we enjoyed it very much, I’ll tell you that. They put on a great show and we made it an all- day festival in town here.” BRIAN SPILLER, Innisfail mayor

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