District of Sicamous council’s view of the Summer Stomp is not shared by all in the community.
During the public question period of council’s regular meeting last Wednesday, Mayor Terry Rysz and councillors heard from resident Pam Beech, who wished to voice concerns about the annual motorcycle event.
Beech said she’d submitted a letter to council that Rysz and Coun. Gord Bushell responded to personally, but she wanted to make her concerns public.
“I do want to be assured though that we’re going to really look at whether or not it needs to be the Stomp because I think there is a fair amount of concern out there about that even in particular, and the perception it creates to visitors and just the branding… I’ve said all of this in the letter to you,” said Beech. “The public hasn’t seen it though, and just out of respect, I’m remembering comments… about how nice it is when the concerns are brought up to council first so they can deal with it and it doesn’t go to the paper… I just feel it would be nice to know there’s going to be more public discussion and public input around the pros and cons to that event. I’m sorry, it’s isn’t all rosy for everybody.”
In response, Bushell said a survey is in the works that will be made available to the public over the Internet. In addition, Bushell said the district would be going to individual businesses in town to have them to fill out surveys.
Beech stressed that people be allowed to fill out the survey anonymously, explaining there are some who are afraid of reprisals.
Mayor Terry Rysz said he’s heard both positive and negative comments about the event.
“We’re hearing you and at the same time, I’m hearing both sides and that’s what makes it such a tough call…,” said Rysz. “I got three emails today from people who support it from some of our visitors and wherever else. I mean yes, we need to have some sort of public consultation in the form of this survey or whatever… maybe the perception is not so good, I don’t know, I’m kind of torn with it as well.”
Beech recognized that not everyone in Sicamous shares her point of view, which she said isn’t about bikers per se, but the particular event.
“It brings history with it, it’s not ours,” said Beech.
Coun. Jeff Mallmes suggested people who say the event isn’t good for the community need to “actually talk to everybody and find out what the advantages were.”
“The narrow minded see a couple of bikes and…,” said Mallmes, before suggesting the police presence was more of a problem.
“What we got this year and the year before, they were part of the problem, trying to create something so they could say something went wrong,” said Mallmes. “But nothing has happened, there hasn’t been and incident, there hasn’t been a fight, none of that stuff.”
Earlier in the meeting, council heard from Summer Stomp Committee president Steve Hammer, who expressed his appreciation to the district and the community for allowing the event to take place in Sicamous. Hammer was there to ask for the district’s support in hosting the event in the community for the next five years. A letter from the Stomp to the district notes this would give Sicamous and the Stomp committee the ability to plan ahead, continue to make the event grow and attract more visitors to the area. The letter includes a request that council approve hosting the event in Sicamous from 2017 to 2021, approve use of the dog park at no charge, use of the portable washroom and stage and liquid waste disposal at no charge, up to 15 hours of maintenance staff time at no charge and a $10,000 grant to accommodate the Main Street events.
Regarding use of the dog park, which is on agricultural land, council approved submitting a letter to the Agricultural Land commission seeking approval for a Non-Farm Use Permit that would be good from May 2017 to Sept. 2022. District recreation manager Jamie Sherlock explained the application, if approved, would accommodate the Stomp and other possible activities and events.
“We’re looking at a snow-cross to be held in February. We’re looking at other access points… for a circus or something like that,” said Sherlock. “So it just kind of gives us a five-year spot to look at. Within that five years we can look to see where we can take it from there.”