Some Penticton businesses said they wish there was more communication about triathlon-related road closures prior to the events this week.
Two businesses, in particular, note that while they support holding the ITU Multisport World Championships in Penticton and acknowledge that road closures are an inevitable product of the event, they were hit harder from the closures than expected over the weekend.
“The event on Saturday, yes, did disrupt our business, and in future more communication from the city is extremely helpful,” said Jacquie Carlson with Poplar Grove Winery, who added that she does see the event as a positive for the city.
“It’s no secret that all three of our businesses were closed last Saturday, which of course, being an agri-tourism business, has a considerable impact on one of the busiest weekends of our tourism season.”
Being the middle of August, Carlson said weekends this time of year are the bread and butter that keeps the industry moving through the slower winter months.
Lyndie Hill, with Hoodoo Adventures, said the biggest hit to her business was the fact that the closure of their block was only expected to last until 10 a.m. In reality, the road remained closed until 4:30 p.m.
“We contacted the organizers and they got back to us right away and apologized and assured us that the schedule would be followed from here on in,” Hill said, noting some unexpected things apparently came up on Saturday.
Both Hill and Carlson said they aren’t looking to complain about the event, but hope to add to the positive aspects of holding such a large event in the city by mitigating the negative impacts.
“We’ve also had people here visit our business from all over the world, because that’s the type of business that we have, where we get them outside experiencing the things that we have in Penticton,” Hill said.
“When they’re busy and tied up with their race, they’re focused on their race, that (business) suffered, but as soon as they have a day off, they’re coming in and utilizing the things that we have.”
While the ITU planning committee did hold an event for businesses early in the year, Carlson suggested the group hold something specific for businesses affected by the road closures, a proposition that Hill agreed would have helped.
“There could have been more direct communication with the businesses, and I know with that meeting, too, there was a lot of businesses that didn’t know about it or know that it was specifically for that,” Hill said, adding that she feels while event organizers are busy with planning a race, the city should step up to communicate issues with businesses.
City of Penticton CAO Peter Weeber said the city has tended to leave communications on events like this up to the event organizers, adding that road closures have been posted “for quite some time.”
“The mapping, the routes, it’s not like they’ve been a secret,” he said. “My feeling, based on what I’ve experienced here since the beginning of the year at different events, not just this event, is that we need to do a better job of communicating with our customers, the ones who pay the bills, like the residents and the businesses.”
Weeber said organizers did contact businesses directly along the routes closed due to races happening this week.
“To what level? I don’t know, but I think we as a city need to be a little bit more involved in those notifications,” Weeber said. “All that information’s on our website, but I think, initially, I think we need to be in contact with businesses and residents that are being impacted. Do I think this is a huge problem? I think it’s an inconvenience.”
Weeber said the city “will do a better job” next year when events similar to the ITU crop up again. But Weeber said he hasn’t received a single complaint regarding the closures.
Weeber said event organizers need to be holding those events like the one proposed by Carlson, while the city gets involved in direct messaging to businesses through organizations like the Downtown Penticton Association.
“It doesn’t matter how much messaging — I could paint this in the clouds and 25 per cent of the people wouldn’t see it,” he said. “But I don’t think we’re doing as good of a job as we could.”