Unlimited Hydroplane Exhibition Event for Kelowna, British Columbia has been approved - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Unlimited Hydroplane Exhibition Event for Kelowna, British Columbia has been approved

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KELOWNA, British Columbia - The Kelowna City Council has narrowly approved an ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane exhibition race in 2009.  Sports for All Management has been working with the city's parks and planning departments to schedule the event and appeared before Council in Kelowna for approval on December 15th.

At least three councilmembers voted against the motion, citing environmental and noise concerns.  One of the biggest opponents was Councilor Hodge.  "I have some serious concerns with noise and with the environmental issue," Hodge said.  "I'm not concerned we've done a good job in the past and that we will do a better job this time.  I'd like to have seen a report on that and how we load the cranes into the park.

Another council member mentioned the City Park will be closed four out of five weekends in August and also expressed concerns about the environment.  "It's not a good site," she said.  "We're not hepling by promoting this type of event."

"It's really a pilot project for a much bigger project," said Hodge.  "And I have some concerns about this smaller project.  Without the ability to have a staff report on that, I'm going to have to vote against this."

Councilor Reid described herself as "a respected environmentlist in this community"and that she will support the pilot event and the next phase in 2010 with some oversite on the environmental impact and inclusion of environmental groups in the community.

The event has the endorsement of the local Hotel/Motel Association and area restaurants.   Event organizers noted that the hotels and restaurants have seen business drop, particularly in August last year.  They say the hydros will draw a new source of revenue and a different group of tourists from America, especially with the dollar down.

Jeff Bernard from the FormulaBoats.com team along with ABRA's Taryn Baze made the trip to appear before Council, but were not asked for their comments during the debate. 

Organizers said they plan to have an environmental consultant guage the impact, but talked about  ABRA's  set of standards, detailing refueling procedures, fire safety protection, and spill containment.  They reported that boat fuel tanks are specially designed to not spill in an accident and that there has not been a spill  incident in 20 years. 

"We've committed to buy carbon credits to offset the race." said John Garson.  "We've also committed to gold standard carbon offsets."

There will be some fish impact - temporary displacement from noise and activity - they said, but minor and likely not an issue.

As for noise?  "When boats are on the water, they'll be noisy," Garson said.  "That's the nature of the boats."

When the debate concluded, there were a majority that voted positively and the event will proceed.  Council did ask for a review of environmental concerns, especially in the marsh areas, before committing to a full blown race in 2010.

Event organizers expect 20,000 people to attend the event nest August.

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