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Impacts of Steaming Nostril cycling race has Wellesley questioning if it should continue to grant permission

Some 300 cyclists will descend on Wellesley and Woolwich townships next weekend for the annual Steaming Nostril, but complaints from residents about last year’s event has Wellesley council reconsidering hosting the event in years to come.

Malcolm Steven of Cycle Waterloo spoke to council on Tuesday night, asking they approve the necessary special event permit.

Council eventually approved it, but not without much discussion about how the event affects residents, especially the horse-and-buggy population.

There was also debate about what benefit, if any, the township receives from hosting the event.

Steven maintains from a sport tourism standpoint, the event is gaining more traction.

“They stay in local hotels, they go to the farmers’ market, so there’s economic activity around all that,” Steven said.

While that may be the case for the region, council had a tough time seeing where the township was benefiting.

“Wellesley Township doesn’t really benefit from hotel occupation or the things sport tourism is supposed to generate. We don’t have those facilities to take advantage of it,” said Coun. Peter van der Maas.

He said it would be nice if there was more of a partnership with Cycle Waterloo and local groups, so the township could see more of a benefit from the ride.

“If there’s a way to partner for rest stops or some other thing like that, we would be happy to do that,” Steven said.

Approximately 80 per cent of the riders come from out of town for the unique event, which includes portions of the route through farmers’ laneways, and up a steep set of stairs in St. Jacobs where riders have to carry their bikes.

Cycle Waterloo is a non-profit organization and it costs about $20,000 to put on the event, now in its fifth year. About a quarter of that goes to paying for a police presence.

There will be 11 paid-duty Waterloo Regional Police officers as well as 25 auxiliary officers working the ride.

He said they like to hold the event on Sundays because there’s less vehicle traffic, but council argued they’d prefer it to be on a Saturday because of all the buggies on the road going to and from church.

Coun. Shelley Wagner said there was some concern raised by residents after last year’s event near Lavery Road. She says the auxiliary police had a group of buggies backed up waiting for a large group of cyclists to go past.

“Several of the horses tried to bolt. They got spooked because of the sound of the tires on the pavement spooked them,” Wagner noted.

“It is causing some friction in our township with our own residents.”

She says the traffic issues on Sunday for the Mennonites could have the potential for a greater issue if something goes wrong.

“It is an imposition. There’s no question it’s an imposition,” said Mayor Joe Nowak.

Councillors did note upon approving the special event permit that they felt their concerns were heard and understood.

The Steaming Nostril has two waves of riders for the 65-kilometre route, as well as the Runny Nose, which is a 40-kilometre route. It takes place on Apr. 9.

The township is planning to put up a map of the ride route on their website to let residents know ahead of time where to expect cyclists. The event organizers put signs up along the route the day before the event, as they were told they can’t put them up any earlier.

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